Release Date: January 1, 2005
Series: No, Stand Alone
Page Count: 550 pages
Find it on Goodreads
"It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement."
So, do you want to know how this book impacted me? Here you go: after crying for two hours straight while finishing this book, I sat on my couch in silence, staring off into space, and when my fiance asked me what was wrong, I told him "I just need to be alone right now," and went to lay down.
I was so emotionally drained after reading this book, I probably came off like a crazy person (Sean is used to that though). For some people, that is a reason not to pick up a book. For me, it means the book did something right if it can bring out those kinds of emotional reactions in me.
I will admit that The Book Thief took some time to hook me. I liked the story and the characters, and I especially liked the storyteller and the narrator used to tell the story - Death. I was a little wary, as I'm sure some of you who've read it were, about a book narrated by Death. That either meant it would be cheesy, or unbearably sad. Take a guess at which one it was?
The plot moved a little slowly at first - we don't even meet the Jewish man in Liesel's basement (not a spoiler) until, what, half way through the book? And frankly, you and I both know that that's where all the action started, but it was slow going getting there. At first I kind of wondered what about this book was everyone raving about.. about halfway through, I realized what it was. Once the story picked up, I felt such connections to Liesel, Rosa, Hans, Rudy, even the mean old lady across the road and the mayor's crazy wife. I loved them all. But thank's to Death's narration style, I already knew who was going to die almost as soon as we found out who they were. There were no surprises in this book. A complaint a lot of people had was that Death took the punch out of the ending because he routinely told you who was going to die and other things that were going to happen well before they actually did. I can see how that would be an issue, but I still don't know how I feel about it. Let me try to explain this to you the best I can:
After I read this book, I felt as though I had been duped. Death has lulled me into a false sense of security. I didn't think the ending would have much of an impact because I already knew exactly who was going to die, just not in what manner. I thought at the time that maybe this method of storytelling would take the sting out of the ending and it wouldn't be as bad as some people had said. I was wrong.
I cried the entire last 100 pages. How is that possible? I cried for almost two hours straight, while struggling to get to the end without breaking down and sobbing. Why did I react this way? Who the hell knows. I knew exactly what was coming, but I loved all of the characters so much that I couldn't bear for it to be true. Maybe I'd secretly harbored hope that it was all a cruel joke and they would all be alive singing Kumbaya My Lord at the end.
Sigh... it upsets me just thinking about it. Imagine what I'll be like when I go see the movie this weekend... ugh. I'm going to be a blubbering fool.
RATING: ★★★★ 1/2
The only complaints I had about this book were that it took a while to get into. The pace was very slow, but that was something I expected going into a book of this emotional magnitude. The writing was unusual but amazing, and any reservations I had about Death narrating this story were quickly forgotten as I fell in love with the characters, story and I even liked Death a little bit. Mostly felt bad for him I think, but Zusak portrayed such an interesting character that it was hard not to wonder about his own story too.
I know many of you have read this before and I've seen many different reactions. How did you feel about the narrator and the spoilers given throughout the whole book? Did you feel as emotionally drained as I did when you got through the ending did Death's spoilers spoil it for you? Anyone going to see the movie this weekend? Let me know what you think!