I recently had the pleasure of reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Please hear all of the sarcasm that the precious statement had. Please do. I think this is that worst book that takes place during the Holocaust and World War II that I have read ever. Ever! I know that it won a whole bunch of awards, but I question why. Since this book is well-loved by so many people, and I have an adverse reaction to it, this review will have spoilers. Stop reading now if you don’t want any.
Are you ready?
I’m being serious. If you don’t want spoilers, stop reading now.
Okay, either you have read the book, you don’t want to read it or you are willing to let someone on the internet sway your opinion on a book you don’t now about.
First off, there is a prologue. With many books, this can be a hit or miss, depending on the book as a whole. If you are one that does not like a book to be spoiled for you from the very beginning, you have picked the wrong book. From the very first “chapter” of the prologue, a huge chunk of the book is given away, which is amazing considering the fact that this book is around five hundred pages long.
Now add in the fact that this book does take place during the Holocaust in Germany. Have a picture of what a book set in Nazi Germany title The Book Thief is about. I’m sorry to tell you that you are exactly right. No ounce of decency went in to making parts of this book memorable. And what is worse, the characters are flatter than flat. It is like they are not even there. They are more like the idea of characters that should be there instead of characters that an author put his heart and soul into create.
Now, let me introduce (or re-introduce) the characters of this novel, if you are being generous.
First, there is Death, our narrator. You may be wondering what I would have against such an interesting choice in narrator. The answer is that he is introduced in a huge way, but the story isn’t about him. Wouldn’t it be interesting to view World War II in its entirety from the very person who collects souls of the dead. According to this book, no. Death, just puts his input every once in a while and has nothing better to do than to ruin the entire plot, if what you are ready can be called a well thought out plot. Yes, all the narrator does it tell you what is going to happen later in the story. What ever plot twist were planned became ruined as soon as Death started to put his two cents into everything.
Next, we have Liesel, our protagonist. I’m pretty sure that she is Aryan. I’m actually not sure seeing as I don’t remember her being described anywhere in the novel. You are welcome to point it out to me where in the book she is given an actual fleshed out characterization. Yes, I know that this is Death making commentary on something that Liesel wrote, but at the very least you could describe her fully. I honestly don’t even know if her character is fully developed. She is just the stereotypical girl, who just so happens to steal books. Nothing special about that. I will give the author some credit in how he tries to use that characters surrounding the girl in order to create her character, but those characters are well-developed either. It is more like the other characters are more of an extension of her than being their own characters.
Because of the previous statement, there really isn’t any need to discuss the other characters, because once you hear about them, the stereotypes about their trope start to pour in.
Seeing as this is the Holocaust, people are just going to die…at the end of the novel and offer no worth in any way. A bomb falls over the town, and I felt absolutely nothing. Death describes the Death of children dying, and I felt no sympathy, even though they were very prominent in the novel. You have done something wrong it I am not the slightest bit upset over the death’s of children. There was nothing to be gained. It was almost as if the author didn’t want to see Liesel through to the end of the war, because that is the literal end of the story before the epilogue, but that is years into the future and the Jewish boy who I totally forgot about show back up again…for no reason. I honestly don’t know if he was trying to be a love interest or not. I just showed up and was there for a while before disappearing again. Then he randomly shows up again looking for her. I’m sorry dude, but I wouldn’t have gone looking for her.
I will admit that this got a little winded. I just had to get my frustrations out. And remember, this is an opinion, not the golden rule of this novel. I will however have a debate over this novel in the comments, if wanted. I also need something to read. I honestly one have a Nicholas Sparks book on my bookshelf that I am planning on reading, just because the movie looked interesting, and I prefer to read the novel before watching the movie. (The heart-break when your favorite part of the book isn’t in the movie or a major part in general. sniffle). Please give me something to read. I’ve been stuck reading lots of manga lately, and a feel like having a book without pictures reading marathon. And trust me, entire mangas can take as long to read a full length novels.