Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Book Thief

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Liesel Meminger and her brother were put into foster care at the start of the Second World War, but Werner died on the train taking them to 33 Himmel Strasse in Molching, near Munich. Hans Hubermann is a kind, patient man who works infrequently as a painter and plays the accordion at night in bars. Rosa Hubermann is a foul-mouthed disciplinarian who beats Liesel with a wooden spoon. Hans taught Liesel to read but the only book she has is The Gravedigger’s Manual, which she found in the snow at her brother’s funeral. Over time, she acquires more books, rescuing one from the ashes of a book burning, finding one floating down the river and stealing them from the mayor’s library, although the mayor’s wife told her to help herself. Max is a Jew trying to stay out of the hands of the Gestapo. He happens to be the son of a friend of Hans who died in the first war and was the source of Hans’ accordion. Max finds his way to 33 Himmel Strasse and hides in the basement putting the family in deadly peril.

The Book Thief is narrated by the Angel of Death, who, as one might expect, has a wicked sense of humor. He also has an outlandish manner of speaking. Mr. Zusak put words into the Grim Reaper’s mouth that should never be juxtaposed. “His skin widened.”; “His face tripped over itself.”; “Her teeth elbowed each other...”; “If they killed him tonight, at least he would die alive.” are some examples that this reader simply didn’t take seriously. The author is also much too fond of sentence fragments that litter the text seemingly at random. The plot is an all too familiar one. The strength of The Book Thief is the characters. They are well developed if somewhat guilty of doing uninteresting things. There is little tension or drama, in fact, the narrator tells us what is going to happen and then takes forever to make it come to pass. The greatest fault in this book is the pace. It is leaden.

It is overly long.
Price $8.99

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