Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


I finished The Book Thief on Saturday, and I've been trying to figure out how to write about it ever since. I enjoyed the audiobook immensely. Allan Corduner's performance is fantastic, and listening to his performance may actually have made me more emotional than had I read the paper version of the book.

I wanted to include some quotations from the book in my review, because Markus Zusak's writing is very lyrical. Some could argue that it's overly-flowery, but I think it works, especially considering our narrator. However, since I listened to the audiobook, it's hard to actually remember the quotes I liked, since it's not like I can just bookmark the page and come back to it later. I tried googling for quotes, but most of the good quotes I found were all super spoilery. So you'll just have to live without examples of Zusak's prose.

The Book Thief is told from the perspective of Death. An appropriate narrator for a book that takes place in Germany during World War II. Death is a compassionate and actually quite witty narrator. Death tells the story of Leisel Meminger, the titular book thief. The first book Leisel steals is The Gravedigger's Handbook, which she finds in the snow next to her little brother's grave. She later goes on to steal a book out of a fire at a Nazi book burning, and a bunch of books from the wealthy mayor. Books are the most important things in Leisel's life, next to her best friend and next-door-neighbor Rudy, and her foster parents Hans and Rosa.

I don't want to spoil any of the plot of the book, but should you choose to read The Book Thief, I would recommend keeping a box of kleenex nearby. I'm just saying. I know it's hard to believe, but a book narrated by Death in Nazi Germany has some sad parts.

2 comments:

Abby-Wan Kenobi said...

Interesting concept. Unfortunately all I can think about is the character "Death" from Family Guy. It doesn't seem like that kind of comedy is going to easily translate to the Holocaust. I might need to wait until I'm more mature to read this book.

miranda. said...

No, this Death is nothing like Family Guy's Death. This Death is more... realistic? If that makes any sense. By "witty" I don't necessarily mean LOL funny. More clever. He makes the kind of observations that you believe someone who has been collecting souls for millennia would make. Take these quotes:

[About war]"A small but noteworthy note. I've seen so many young men over the years who think they're running at other young men. They are not. They are running at me."

"(By the way-I like this human idea of the grim reaper. I like the scythe. It amuses me.)"

"It was a year for the ages, like 79, like 1346, to name just a few. Forget the scythe, Goddamn it, I needed a broom or a mop. And I needed a vacation."

And I have to give a lot of credit to Alan Corduner's very charming performance. Really, I highly recommend listening to this audiobook. You won't regret it. But do NOT listen to the last disc on your way to work. You'll be a mascara-y mess.