Colleen’s review of The Book Thief > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Rowan (new)

Rowan i have to disagree with you that books written for young people aren't good. well-written, engaging young adult fiction is quite possibly the best way to get young people to love reading. Madeleine L'Engle's Time series were written for the young adult crowd and they are as sophisticated and entertaining as any adult novel. Megan McCafferty's novels about Jessica Darling are classified as young adult but are enjoyed and related to by adults.

i disagree, too, that the worst thing that one can say about the holocaust is that we don't need to hear any more about it. i do agree it is depressing and i don't want to surround myself with it, but we cannot forget. as long as genocide perpetrates, we cannot forget about the Holocaust, the Kurds, Cambodians, Somalis, etc.




message 2: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Points taken. Thank you for your thoughtful response and attention.


message 3: by Melissa (new)

Melissa B. I actually read somewhere that the book wasn't written for young adults, but the US publisher thought it would sell better if they marketed it that way. I think they did it a big disservice.


message 4: by Colleen (new)

Colleen You're right, Melissa. It was marketed as a YA book in Australia, Zusak's homeland. Then, when published in the US, it was slated to be an adult book, but was switched to YA at the last minute. I agree that this was a shame.

Actually, I don't really avoid YA books-- after all, kids and teens have very active imaginations, which keep authors on their metaphoric toes.

Another interesting tidbit: several of the events in the story were taken directly from Zusak's grandparents' stories of wartime Germany. Write what you and/or your ancestors know, eh?


message 5: by Annabelle.voo (new)

Annabelle.voo Voorhees Duh, dude.
These days, young adult fiction is where it's at.
No other writing truly cuts to the chase of major issues in such an enticing way.
If you ignore the "teen" books at the big box book store (walk right by the "IT" girl series) and read between the shelves, you will find more jewels than in any other section.
Wake up and smell the sickly smell of James Patterson!
Moving on to Paul Zindel and Go Ask Alice!



message 6: by Sally (new)

Sally It's not marketed as a YA book in Australia, although Zusak's other book is. It's actually in Angus and Robertson's Top 100 book list (A&R are an Australian bookshop chain, and the Top 100 is voted by customers).
The thing about good YA books is they so rarely have the literary pretensions that books written for adults do. They set out to tell a good story, and although they sometimes have all those "good-triumphs-over-evil" type moralising, they don't try to impress people with their prose, which removes the self-concious "literary" aspect that I find in a lot of adult books.


message 7: by Meaghan (new)

Meaghan I am a huge YA fiction fan and it always saddens me when people assume that because it's YA, it can't be good. I hope your experience with the Book Thief will convince you to try other YA books, there are some awesome ones out there.

I think Hitler was born in Austria, incidentally.


message 8: by Colleen (new)

Colleen I'd like to add to my review by saying that this book changed my (obviously narrow-minded) view of YA reads. I loved the book, and have since found awesome books in this genre. :)

Strange about the birthplace... perhaps I misread it and the town was actually his hometown, ie, where he grew up.


message 9: by stephanie (new)

stephanie hitler was born in austria and educated in vienna, but back then the ties between austria and southern germany were very tight. plus, "germany" was a brand new nation-state when hitler was born, because the franco-prussian war had basically just ended and created a unified germany under bismark. the dual monarchy was a much better place to be growing up. also, munich was where hitler started his political career, and it's the birthplace of nazism, so to speak, starting with the munich beer hall putsch in 1923.

so while munich was not *his* birthplace, it was technically the birthplace of the hitler we know - where he wrote mein kampf, etc.

(interestingly, hitler was in high school with wittgenstein. crazy, right?)

and YA is crazy good these days - though i agree, i think the book thief should not have been marketed as YA - not because this type of quality can't be found in YA, but because it's a pretty sophisticated book in terms of style and literary techniques, and i do think a lot of people are turned off by the label when they would otherwise enjoy it.


message 10: by Liz (new)

Liz YA books are actually pretty similar to adult books, with the exception of Gossip Girl and Clique books. They are still excellent and I enjoy them just as much as adult books. I think the Book Thief falls into both categories, just like Harry Potter.
The Book Thief rocks!!!


message 11: by Chrissy (new)

Chrissy >>1) It's a Young Adult Book. I am an Adult. It can't be that good if it's written for young people.<<

Not true in the least. Some of the best books written today are for young adults.


message 12: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Treasa wrote: ">>1) It's a Young Adult Book. I am an Adult. It can't be that good if it's written for young people.<<

Not true in the least. Some of the best books written today are for young adults."


Indeed. Forgive my oversight. I am now a YA enthusiast.



message 13: by Karen (last edited Jan 06, 2009 06:31AM) (new)

Karen Great point about Death and the foreshadowing. I agree that this really reflects the dread that fills people during wartime.

And regarding previous comments on YA vs. adult, I believe this book was not marketed as a YA when originally published in Australia. I think it was a marketing decision by the publisher simply because the protagonist is a teenager throughout most of the book. Life of Pi, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and even The Lovely Bones are also sometimes marketed this way, and I wouldn't call those teen books. It's pretty heavy reading for most teenagers, I would only recommend it to those teens who are reading adult literature.

And I also agree with earlier posts that there are some excellent, powerful written for YAs. I'm a graduate student in Library Science and I have read some outstanding books for YAs that I'd recommend for adults as well. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Absolutely True Diary of the Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly spring to mind.


message 14: by Dominique (new)

Dominique Not going to jump on the bandwagon about your YA comment, only going to add that since you are now a YA patron you should look into John Green's books for very good YA reads.

As the the review I'm currently read The Book Thief. The style threw me for a loop but I'm learning to really appreciate the eccentricities of it. I love the mingling of German and English.


message 15: by Colleen (new)

Colleen uuhhh...this book wasn't really about the holocaust. But, I'm glad you liked it as much as I did.


message 16: by Stacey (new)

Stacey When I read your comment about not reading the book because of it being for "young adults," I immediately wanted to say something...yeah, everyone else has already jumped on that, but I still feel the need. To reject something as being good before you've even read it, simply because it is aimed at people younger than you are is quite immature in itself. It's fine if it's just not your type of book, but don't shut anything down just because it might not be marketed to you. There are plenty of really good young adult books, and why should they go unnoticed by adult book addicts...you may find something that you may have missed before.


message 17: by Ann (new)

Ann Freeman Hitler was born in Austria as many have pointed out, but the Nazi Party was basically born in Munich.


message 18: by Donna (new)

Donna I too have to say when I ordered for my book club through the book store in town, and they said it was a young adult book. I was not pleased.

However, I was pleasantly surprised the book is marvelous. It is written by the point of view of the germans that where left in the cities and what they had to deal with, a moving book. The writer has a way with words. His interview says he likes a gem on each page. And he accomplishes that and more. His characters will live in my heart. My book club just read it and we all loved it. I hope you give it a chance. happy page turning. donna


message 19: by Carl (new)

Carl Nelson Nice review. I agree with your points about Death as the narrator, and would also like to add (----> SPOILER! <----) that the foreshadowing eases the blows of the deaths that come, in addition to making Liesel's fate far more valedictory. That also gave Zusak the familiarity of narrator of first person with the advantages of third person omniscient narrative. It could have ruined the book but instead was one of the best parts of it.


message 20: by Katie (new)

Katie Mcsweeney I was surprised to learn that it was marketed anywhere as a Young Adult book, not that there is anything wrong with YA books... it's just that I don't think the label serves any real purpose.


message 21: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Rowan wrote: "i have to disagree with you that books written for young people aren't good. well-written, engaging young adult fiction is quite possibly the best way to get young people to love reading. Madeleine..."

I was reminded of this earlier today, while flying home. The woman next to me was reading an L.M. Montgomery book, and I couldn't help but be a little crestfallen that I hadn't brought along such engaging flight material.


message 22: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Hooray for Sherman Alexie!!

Karen wrote: "Great point about Death and the foreshadowing. I agree that this really reflects the dread that fills people during wartime.

And regarding previous comments on YA vs. adult, I believe this bo..."



message 23: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Carl wrote: "Nice review. I agree with your points about Death as the narrator, and would also like to add (----> SPOILER! <----) that the foreshadowing eases the blows of the deaths that come, in addition to ..."

I agree with you about the (view spoiler)


message 24: by Christa (new)

Christa I don't consider this a young adult book. And even if it was, it's worth reading. It's a very new and different take on events during the Holocaust. Definitely worth reading, but then again, we all have different tastes.


message 25: by Colleen (new)

Colleen It's interesting to think about publishers making choices like this one. Would The Book Thief seen higher sales if they had made it an adult book? The United States sales team thought not, but New Zealanders did read it as an adult book. Thanks for the comment Christa!


message 26: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Personally I don't think we can EVER hear/read enough about the Holocaust; after reading Sarah's Key (another great book) I want to read anything I can ge my hands on. It's very important to be reminded of the horror that the Jews went through.


message 27: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I think the Harry Potter series blew out of the water the theory that books for Young Readers can't be good for Adult readers. Not to say that ALL would rate, but I learned through Harry Potter and the sensitive reading of my teenage friends not to--pardon the pun--judge a book by its cover! : )


message 28: by Robert (new)

Robert Brucato think we heard too much about the holocaust? Really?


message 29: by Colleen (new)

Colleen No. We should study such atrocities. That was tongue-in-cheek.

On reflection, the holocaust may not be the best subject for tongue-in-cheek humor.


message 30: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Shears This is such a good book. I think the more we know about the Holocaust the more informed we are and the more we can learn from our past mistakes. This book is upsetting at the best of times but there are some very funny moments in it as well. I was recommended this book by a friend on here and I was very loathe to read it, but am very glad I did now. Im hoping to read more of this authors books to see if they hold the same story lines.


message 31: by Colleen (new)

Colleen I felt the same way, Lisa. I was a bit hesitant about reading it at first, but I am incredibly glad I read it in the end. There are many moments of beauty and hope.


message 32: by Rain (new)

Rain Zschech don't discount young adult books. they can be better than the ones written for adults. frankly, i've been living on YA books for the last 2 years. the adult books just don't seem to be as interesting anymore.


message 33: by Stephen (new)

Stephen I completely disagree with you about Young Adult novels! Some of my favourite novels are from the teen section - they have such much to teach us about love and friendship, hope and courage. Take Harry Potter for example!


message 34: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Stephen wrote: "I completely disagree with you about Young Adult novels! Some of my favourite novels are from the teen section - they have such much to teach us about love and friendship, hope and courage. Take Ha..."

Rain and Stephen--hear, hear! The Book Thief was one of my first forays into the wonderful world of YA, where I happily spend time these days.


message 35: by Lindsey (new)

Lindsey Yeah, how DARE they make another book about the Holocaust. Why can't they just shut up about it already! -___-


message 36: by Amy (new)

Amy Colleen - I'm so glad this book changed your perspective about YA lit! There's some really great YA books out there, and some great websites and blogs that champion them. If you're interested, check out VOYA's site and Forever Young Adult's blog for other great YA fiction. Read on!


message 37: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Amyk wrote: "Colleen - I'm so glad this book changed your perspective about YA lit! There's some really great YA books out there, and some great websites and blogs that champion them. If you're interested, ch..."

Thanks for the resources Amyk! I will check them out!
~C


message 38: by Jules (new)

Jules One of the books on my to-read pile! Thanks for the review - it certainly seems to add a different light to the subject matter - look forward to reading it!


message 39: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Jules wrote: "One of the books on my to-read pile! Thanks for the review - it certainly seems to add a different light to the subject matter - look forward to reading it!"

You're welcome, Jules! Enjoy! (I sure did!)


message 40: by Tina (new)

Tina Actually, a lot of YA lit is better than the trash they market to adults these days. A vast majority of what I read is YA lit because a good selection of it is extremely well written and some of them are among the best books I've ever read. Like any other genre there will be some that aren't great, but there are some, like this book, that are just amazing. So don't automatically count a book out just because it's YA. YA is a fantastic genre of lit.


message 41: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Tina-- thanks for the comment. Having written this post some time ago, I have since had time to further explore this genre. And I must agree with you-- somehow, YA has an energy and creativity to it right now that I don't see in many other areas.


message 42: by Tina (new)

Tina Yay! Glad to hear it! :-)


message 43: by Kristi (new)

Kristi I really dislike your comment: 2) It's about the Holocaust, and I think we've all heard enough about that. YOU CAN NEVER HEAR ENOUGH! The Holocaust should never be forgotten or blown off. What a selfish thing to say. Shame on you.


message 44: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Apparently my tongue-in-cheek tone didn't come through. Supposed to be a joke. Clearly the holocaust isn't something people are comfortable joking about. And that makes sense. Sorry if I offended you, that wasn't the intention.


message 45: by Katie (new)

Katie awesome review!!! totally agree


message 46: by Heaven (new)

Heaven 1) It's a Young Adult Book. I am an Adult. It can't be that good if it's written for young people.

So wrong.


message 47: by Ginevra (new)

Ginevra I'm confused about your review. You say you didn't want to read it because "it can't be that good if it's written for young people" (a completely false statement and I feel sorry that your missing a lot of great books), then you say "turns out most of my concerns were right". After reading your review it seams to me that you liked the book and thought it was well written.


message 48: by Xander (new)

Xander Duffy Rosa was one of my favourite characters too. Her foul mouth, at times bitter attitude was brilliantly married to her gentleness. When she makes Leisul call her mamma, it was done with such a ferocity, yet reminded me of my own mother, you could see the love and heart behind the bark.


message 49: by Lora (new)

Lora I admit that I struggled with this book for the first 75%. I don't know if it was the point of view or something else. It is a difficult read, in a good way. Brain engaging! However, the last 100 pages are just riveting. Some of the descriptions...of the shelter, of all of Leisel's trips to the mayor's home, the discoveries of her loved ones at book's end, and the epilogue. So amazing.
I'e read elsewhere that the theme of the book could be words and I wouldn't disagree.
Also, somewhere on this board someone said this book is not about the Holocaust...I think it is definitely a piece of a larger story. kept thinking how esy it would have been to live so near Dachau and not know what was really happening there, so caught up were they in their own survival.


message 50: by Colleen (new)

Colleen I wish that Goodreads had a "like" button. Lora, love your thoughts here. The larger theme of words rings true for me.


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