The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

March 2, 2018

This is a review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This book… it's won many awards, got amazing reviews and was generally liked by the world, but not me. Well, sort of.

 

The Book Thief takes place in Germany before, during and after World War II, and it starts with Death. Not death as in people dying, but death as in Death. You know, the Grim Reaper. It turns out that Death is the narrator of the book, talking about humans and colors and sweet, sweet chocolate. This section alone can turn people off… at the beginning of the book. Now, I don't know about you, but first impressions are everything to me, and if you don't set it up right, people lose interest. Books like Acceleration and Scythe nailed the intros and made we want to read more. They're like hooks in an essay. Without them, less people want to read what you've written. After the first few pages of the book, you're introduced to Liesel Meminger, a young German girl whose brother just died. This book is already uplifting. At her brother's graveside, she finds a book in the snow, called The Grave Digger's Handbook, and thus begins her career as the Book Thief. After that, she goes to live with her foster parents. She learns how to read and starts stealing a lot of books. Later, a Jew comes to live with them, she has experiences with Hitler Youth groups, and develops a close friendship to her foster father, Hans. That's all that I'll tell you for the sake of not spoiling anything.

 

I've already talked a bit about Death, the narrator of this book. I know I said this choice could turn people away from the book, but he is a great narrator. Markus Zusak wrote Death in such a way that not only does he do a good job of narrating, but he can be very morbidly humorous at times. But hey, it's Death. What do you expect?

 

I'm gonna play the fortune-telling card and guess what you're thinking right now. "Christian, so far you've been saying good things about this book, but you said in Paragraph 1 that you didn't like this book. What's going on?"

Well let's get to that, shall we?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'm no longer gonna beat around the bush. I will now tell you the one thing I hate about this book. It's pretty simple, actually. This book is boring. Period.

 

500 out of the 550 pages bored the sanity right out of me and went back to living in the cold abyss known as the space behind my couch. Right around the time Liesel got to Molching, my brain just shut off, and it stayed that way for most of the book. That's why I'm probably never reading this book ever again. This book is too boring in too many places for me to really enjoy it.

 

But notice how I said 500 out of the 550 pages bored me. Well, let's talk about the other 50 pages.

10 of those pages were the beginning, obviously, but that's not where I'm getting at. I'm talking about the ending. I'm not going to say anything about the ending due to spoilers, but I will say that it is one of the saddest and happiest endings I've ever read in a book (although most of those books ended on a cliffhanger. I hate when books do that). I cried. I honestly cried, but I had to sit through 500 pages of boredom to get to that point, and the book just dragged on…

...and on…
...and on…
...and on...

This book gets a ?. The ending was phenomenal, but the rest of the book was too boring and I can't give it a high score because of it. But I still recommend it to anyone who's interested. If not for the ending, who knows? Maybe you'll find something good in this book that I didn't.






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