When I think about Germany during World War II, I never think about German civilians, or even the soldiers. I only think of atrocities and evil leaderWhen I think about Germany during World War II, I never think about German civilians, or even the soldiers. I only think of atrocities and evil leaders and evil officers and most of all, the victims. Sympathy for Germans doesn't cross my mind. At least it didn't until The Book Thief. This is a story about a lot of things. Most of all, for me, it's a reminder that the casualties or war not not all soldiers. Not the good guys or the bad guys. But regular people, trying to live and grow up in a war zone. This is a timeless truth.
Now, the compulsory question: Gimmicky or not? I say gimmicky.
At the beginning, the little notes seemed new and experimental. But no. Just gimmicky. And the voice of death could be edgy or even humorous if done in that tone. And seriously, this is Germany in 1943 - Death has a staring roll. But I don't think it was necessary. Just another hook.
I kind of even wonder, if the book didn't have these devices, would it have been marketed as a YA book? Or do publishers think they need to appear edgy to get teens reading? And do teens fall for it? Not that one needs to be tricked into reading The Book Thief. It's really quite a read. You don't need to gimmick people into reading, why gimmick at all?...more
If this were a movie, I never would have made it through. It was just so so horribly descriptive, nearly boardingWow. So incredibly violent and sad.
If this were a movie, I never would have made it through. It was just so so horribly descriptive, nearly boarding on rape-porn or something. I was cringing and crying and feeling like some kind of creeper listening to the audio book in traffic. Maybe that comes through differently in print, listening to a woman with a lovely voice and lovely accent calmly and graphically describing rape in beautiful prose was just gross.
I get that it is supposed to be gross. And supposed to make the reader angry (and it did), but it also had another vibe that I just couldn't shake. I felt so exploitative to use this story as entertainment. If someone can read this and take it as a call to action to help these kids, then yes. Some good can come out of this book. But just reading about horrors for the shock and emotion just isn't siting well with me....more
**spoiler alert** I was really loving Never Let Me Go, until the end. What a terrible ending to a book full of thoughtfulness and well rounded charact**spoiler alert** I was really loving Never Let Me Go, until the end. What a terrible ending to a book full of thoughtfulness and well rounded characters.
I get that the Students, while they were still in their schools, could be sheltered from politics. But, we're really expected to believe that as they entered the world as carers and donors they all completely missed the news that their very existence and treatment was a matter of major public debate. Not one donor or carer over the decades got involved in the politics of their situation or even became aware enough of those politics for word or rumor to get back to the rest of them. Also, I don't buy that Cathy and the others never heard about the living conditions for students from other schools despite living and working with them and caring for them for years.
Also, the plot device of some knowing person just finally sitting down and spilling the beans is totally anti-climactic....more
**spoiler alert** The "moral" of The Life of Pi pissed me off so much that it detracted significantly from my overall impression.
I enjoy a good story.**spoiler alert** The "moral" of The Life of Pi pissed me off so much that it detracted significantly from my overall impression.
I enjoy a good story. I am capable of doing so without PRETENDING that I believe that it is true. The very idea that anyone would believe in God simply because it's a better story blows my mind.
First and foremost, that idea presupposes that we can choose to believe something we know to be false. In the first part of the book, Pi becomes devoted to three religions. I'm not familiar with Hinduism, but I know the other two each have a central tenant stating that they are the one true religion. So right for the start we have Pi saying that he believes in three things that by definition cannot all be true. To actually hold three religions is to admit that you don't really believe they are true. I kept wondering, with the same fascination that I, as an atheist, always hold toward religious stories, about how he was going to resolve that conflict. And it turns out that the resolution was completely half-assed and insincere. Believing is fun.
And second it assumes that God is a better story, which shows a complete lack of fascination and/or appreciation for the natural world. Even on the very surface, this one story, that idea proves questionable at best. I did enjoy the story with animals. It was a fascinating story. And given the telling and by comparison, the alternative story did sound awfully plain and possibly too terrible for a person to live with. But certainly it was not uninteresting, and given a better telling, it probably would have been a superior story as human interactions, particularly in extreme circumstances are more relateable than tigers and zebras. I recently read Unbroken and was captivated by the lost-at-sea portion of that book, despite a lack of tigers, which proves that you don't need tigers to tell a lost-at-sea story that people want to read.
There is a statement in the introduction about how this is a story to make atheists into believers, (with the subtle hint that the author doesn't believe that atheists are sincere) which can be totally reversed. What this story demonstrated is that some believers only believe because they prefer a magical story (or can't deal with reality), which is to say that they don't really believe at all. ...more