Thursday, June 28, 2007


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"Z" Author, 9th TBR, Last Chunkster & Decade 2000

I know I'm probably the last person on the planet who hadn't read this book. When I started it, I was afraid I would be the only person on the planet who didn't like it. But the change was so subtle, I was surprised to find myself absolutely caught up in the story. Most of you already know the story so I won't recap that; I'll just share what I loved about this book.
1. The characters are so well-drawn and compelling. You can identify with each one and Zusak has a knack for making them become more important to you as the story evolves.
2. Death narrates the story with a sense of self-deprecation, humor and almost a touch of humanity. "He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry." Besides Liesel, the book thief, I would classify Death as the main character of the book. All the action revolves around these two. Death describes the colors associated with the deaths of different humans. "People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them." And, against his will, Death is fascinated by the book thief. Choosing Death as the narrator was sheer genius.
3. Zusak's use of the language. He creates new words out of the commonplace by adding prefixes and suffixes to place just the right emphasis on what he is trying to convey. Ex: "the oldened young man". He paints pictures that are so vivd you become part of the scenery and the characters become your friends.
4. The importance of words. "She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain." In this novel, you see both the joy and beauty that words can create as well as the hatred and the ugliness.
5. The glory of books. "She walked over and did it again, this time much slower, with her hand facing forward, allowing the dough of her palm to feel the small hurdle of each book. It felt like magic, like beauty, as bright lines of light shone down from a chandelier. Several times, she almost pulled a title from its place but didn't dare disturb them. They were too perfect."
6. I was able to see another view of Nazi Germany. I've read several books that describe the horrors of what happened to 6 million Jews, but this novel is told from the viewpoint of the common people of Germany. It certainly condemns the atrocities of the Nazis and the racism of its citizens, but it also shows the compassion, love, and loss felt by others. The characters are ordinary people who must live their lives in terrible circumstances.
7. This book made me feel so much. In reviewing certain sections for this review, I tear up. While reading about the parade of Jews, I wanted to cry and I had goosebumps on my arms. They watched the Jews come down the road like a catalog of colors. That wasn't how the book thief described them, but I can tell you that that's exactly what they were, for many of them would die. They would each greet me like their last true friend, with bones like smoke and their souls trailing behind." The last chapter was heart-wrenching and I did cry. Even with all the sadness, the book is life-affirming and the ending is very satisfying. "I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-- that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same things could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant."
8. I will read this book again, probably many times. As others have said, it is a must-read. It is far and away the best book I have read since starting my reading blog.
Rating: 5+++
Posted by Framed at 10:05 AM

Melissa said...
You're not the last person to read this. I may be. I still need to get around to it. Sigh.
5/01/2007 12:55 PM
Alyson said...
I haven't read it yet either, so don't feel bad. Congrats on finishing your A-Z challenge.
5/01/2007 2:24 PM
Amanda said...
I'm so glad you read this! I also started it and was afraid I didn't like it, but once at the end it instantly became the best book I have ever read. It is my new obsession!
5/01/2007 2:27 PM
Les said...
Beautiful, beautiful review!! I'm sitting here at my desk with goosebumps, tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat, and a smile on my face. I loved re-reading all those glorious passages and am tempted to stop my current book and re-read this brilliant work once again. I chose it for my staff selection at B&N this month and I've already sold one copy to a customer. It's one of those books that I want the entire world to know about! Truly the work of a classic.
5/01/2007 2:45 PM
Joy said...
So glad you joined the club! :) It truly is a very good book!
5/01/2007 2:57 PM
booklogged said...
Framed, your review is beautiful. I felt just like Les did as I read your thoughts. I've been holding my breath since you posted Zazoo, knowing that your were reading The Book Thief next. I was hoping you would like it and glad you did. Now the question we've all had after finishing a great book - What do you read next, knowing nothing else will be able to match up?
5/01/2007 6:28 PM
Jill said...
Well, actually Melissa (above) and I are the last two people who haven't yet read it. Soon, very soon...
5/01/2007 6:28 PM
booklogged said...
Forgot to say Congratulations on finishing up both the title and author A-Z read. I think that's highly commendable.
5/01/2007 6:29 PM
hellomelissa said...
this has been on my amazon wishlist since i read booklogged's review, but no kind soul (ahem, HUSBAND) has yet bought it for me.
5/01/2007 9:03 PM
SuziQoregon said...
Fabulous review!! I'm so glad you liked it as much as I did. I'm going to send a link to your review to my sister-in-law who recently finished my copy of this book.
5/01/2007 10:13 PM
Carey said...
I better add my name to the not read yet. Coincidently I started it this morning on my ride to work - due to a long commute I am listening to it on CD. Thanks for the heads up that it gets better as the book goes on.Congrats on finishing the A-Z Book & Author.
5/02/2007 9:14 AM
Carey said...
I better add my name to the not read yet. Coincidently I started it this morning on my ride to work - due to a long commute I am listening to it on CD. Thanks for the heads up that it gets better as the book goes on.Congrats on finishing the A-Z Book & Author.
5/02/2007 9:15 AM
Lisa said...
Congrats on finishing your A-Z!! That's great.I think #6 is one of the things I loved about this book too...I've read so many Nazi Germany books from the perspective of Jews...That's very valuable, but we tend to think that all Germans in that time were just atrocious. This book really shows the kind of intimidation going on in the country at that time, and just how hard it would have been to defy the regime.Oh, I loved this book. I almost want to tell people not to read it, because once you've read it, you can never have the experience of reading it for the first time ever again!!!!!
5/02/2007 3:06 PM
Wendy said...
Ah, wonderful, beautifully written review which captured exactly the reasons I too LOVED this book and put it on the top of my list of all-time favorite books. Your review made me want to read The Book Thief again.
5/02/2007 5:02 PM
Framed said...
I just read all these comments and got goosebumps again. How can a book do that? I'm doing a summary post of my A to Z soon. It was a fun challenge.Book, I'm reading "Swallows and Amazons", a complete about-face from "The Book Thief." It was hard to want to read anything else.
5/02/2007 7:07 PM
Stephanie said...
This is my favorite book so far this year!! I absolutely loved it!!
5/03/2007 6:03 AM
Bookfool said...
Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes. I agree with you on everything you said. It's just the most moving, brilliant book. I tell everyone they must read it. I'm sure there are many people who haven't gotten to it! Honestly, every time I read a review of The Book Thief, I envy the reader who just had the joy of reading the book for the first time. It's definitely on my all-time favorites list to stay.
5/04/2007 7:23 PM
3M said...
This was one of my favorite books read this year, too.Congrats on finishing your A to Z!!
5/05/2007 6:15 PM
Literary Feline said...
Congratulations on getting through the alphabet! I have yet to read this book, but hope to next year. Wonderful review!
5/07/2007 9:53 PM

Thanks for visiting my blog. I agree with everything you've said about the book.
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