Set in Germany during the late 1930s and early 1940s, The Book Thief is partly a story about Nazis, a little about the Holocaust, and a lot about humaSet in Germany during the late 1930s and early 1940s, The Book Thief is partly a story about Nazis, a little about the Holocaust, and a lot about human relationships and the shape of a human soul.
I almost didn't give this book a proper chance. I had trouble getting through the prologue because I thought the narrator's presence was too strong. I thought it seemed gimmicky to have Death narrate the story so much. But then I got into the first part and I fell in love with the characters and the heartache and the pain.
The Book Thief isn't the type of book that I felt compelled to rush through to see what happened next. I didn't read it quickly. Instead, this was the type of book that I read a chunk and then had to put it down so I could process what I read.
Zusak has written a very painful book in a very beautiful way. One that will tug at your heart and maybe step on it a few times by the end. The characters are so multifaceted and real that even though I knew what was going to happen to them, how they would die (because Death is kind enough to give some fair warning) it is still so upsetting....more
I'm sort of a sucker for a good period piece and for a strong female character and this book started out with both. It faltered, it wasn't perfect, buI'm sort of a sucker for a good period piece and for a strong female character and this book started out with both. It faltered, it wasn't perfect, but overall this book was strong enough that I enjoyed having read it.
Camille does not lead a typical life for a young woman living in London in the 1800s. She dresses in trousers as a boy and spends her nights hunting werewolves with her guardian (which makes the cover a little confusing since she so rarely wears dresses). That is how she meets Nathaniel Strider, the newest victim of a werewolf bite, who Dr. Bennett and Camille have one month to study and find a cure for before he transforms.
Where this book falters for me is when it gets caught up in the romance. The language becomes unbearable (Strider actually affectionately calls her a "sopping kitten" at one point); Camille herself becomes unbearable (she finds her bottom lip quivering in his presence and she also becomes a lovesick fool). But, I enjoyed the science in this book, I enjoyed that werewolves are still monsters and not romantic creatures. I also enjoyed some of the twists (although I definitely guessed the cure well before Dr. Bennett and Camille did).
Slight sort of spoiler that doesn't ruin any plot: My absolute favorite part of this book, that showed wit and actually made me laugh out loud, is when Nathaniel and Camille kiss in public and when they notice everyone staring at them, he says "I suppose I should have waited to kiss you when you weren't dress in trousers."
Spoiler The ending ties up a little too neatly a little too quickly (Oh, surprise, we're heading to Transylvania and we've surprisingly worked out a way for Strider to come too! Hope that one-month courtship is long lasting and not just a fling born of desperation and danger!)...more
I actually enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I wasn't super impressed with the beginning of Wither, but shortly into it I started to enjoI actually enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I wasn't super impressed with the beginning of Wither, but shortly into it I started to enjoy it more. It was sort of a typical YA plotline even if the specifics of the world were different. It's fairly formulaic, although I was very happy with the "romance" aspect of this book.
There were some questionable plot points and motives of people (view spoiler)[considering there's a deadly virus killing people after they turn 20/25, why is it so horrifying that Vaughn is taking the bodies of the people who died and dissecting them to try and find a cure? Maybe I'm a horrible human being, but it sort of makes sense. Sure, everything else about him sucks, but that actually wasn't that bad and people made it out to be the most horrible thing in the world (hide spoiler)]. But I'm also not a geneticist and I was really reading this book as a light, fun summer book, so I didn't want something too deep and technical to read.
I guess the most important thing is that I liked it enough to get the next book.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'm now moving on to The Magician's Ward, but I finished the first book and wanted to write a review while it was still fresh in my mind.
Mairelon theI'm now moving on to The Magician's Ward, but I finished the first book and wanted to write a review while it was still fresh in my mind.
Mairelon the Magician: This book was a fun read, complete with a mystery, double crossings, a search and more than one pistol. I thoroughly enjoyed following the storyline and trying to figure out what exactly everyone was up to.
This is the second book this year I've read where the main female character spends the majority of her time dressed as a boy. In Camille the title character does slip into dresses on occasion and changes from a strong character to one who fell ridiculously in love with a boy after knowing him a week. On the other hand, Kim in Mairelon the Magician never changes out of her boys' attire and is often mistaken for a boy (something she encourages by never willingly letting people know she's actually a girl). I liked that about Kim because it showed how guarded she is. At the same time I couldn't help but wonder how so many people could mistake an almost 17-year-old girl as a boy after spending a significant amount of time in her company.
This book had so many characters and the way they all came together was done wonderfully and, incredibly enough, humorously. Watching the characters, of all different walks of life and stations, was engaging because of how they clashed.
As much as I enjoyed the ride while reading the book, there were times when it unfortunately lagged. For instances, I didn't like the recaps. Wrede had a tendency to follow a scene with Mairelon bringing attention to a whole bunch of unanswered questions. As the reader I knew what the questions were, and I didn't need things repeated and slowed down. Also, the finale, as humorous as it was at parts, was dragged out for far too long with far too many explanations that needed going over.
Update (3/2/11): I just finished the second book, The Magician's Ward, and I enjoyed it so much that it more than made up for any issues I had with the first book. It was great to see the various ways the characters changed but still stayed enough like themselves.
The Magician's Ward is a finely woven web of mysteries and characters. Every new character, whether or not they were involved with the main mystery, had an overall purpose in the story and even better they weren't two dimensional. The unlikable society women weren't all that bad (even if Letitia is a snobby, gold-digging brat) and they could have been horrible caricatures simply created to make Kim hate them and those like them.
Kim was amazing. She went through a huge transformation and yet was still recognizable as that girl who dressed as a boy and lived on the streets. I very much enjoyed the inner conflict she has wondering who exactly she is. She spent so much time pretending to be a boy for her safety and now she's pretending to be a society girl it's what is expected as Mairelon's ward. Either way, she's clearly playing at being someone else. I can't help but wonder when she's going to have the chance to find out who she really is.
The cast of characters in this book was amazing. From Mairelon's mother, who was quirky but still very much conscious of societal expectations, and Renee D'Auber, who is just as cool as she was in the last book, to the various toffs Kim has to deal with and even Mairelon's aunt. I'm always a sucker for when you spend almost the whole book thinking about a character one way and then they decide to do something awesome that makes you reevaluate them.
And allow me to say that this is how I like my romance done. Subtle. Simmering. Natural. I would like to thank Patricia Wrede for creating a romance that I believed, enjoyed reading about and actually rooted for. Too often romances are so unrealistic and I get a headache from rolling my eyes in disgust (and this is coming from a girl marrying her high school sweetheart), but here I loved every moment where I could see the characters realizing their feelings for one another.
This book was so highly entertaining. I definitely preferred The Magician's Ward to Mairelon the Magician, but overall they complimented one another beautifully....more
I was impressed when I read Mistborn because Sanderson had created such a unique magic system and a world with a detailed history and interesting poliI was impressed when I read Mistborn because Sanderson had created such a unique magic system and a world with a detailed history and interesting politics. In that sense, Warbreaker is similar, with an entirely new and unique magic system in an entirely new world that he built. He's also incredibly adept at creating three-dimensional characters, particularly strong female characters who aren't abrasive. He does a good job at keeping you guessing about what is really going on until he deigns to explain it all (and it isn't tiresome).
I thoroughly enjoyed the ride that Warbreaker presented. However, the destination was sort of a letdown. Warbreaker is a standalone novel, but at the end I couldn't help but feel like I was jipped. The entire purpose of the book is that sisters Siri and Vivenna are both trying in their own ways to prevent a war between their home, Idris, and the more powerful Hallandren. And yet there's nothing really concrete about the outcome of the war. The epilogue tied up some loose ends, but it didn't really give me what I wanted after investing so much in the (incredibly interesting) in the story.
I think a lot of people will be disappointed with the rushed ending....more
However, Unearthly was incredibly interesting and had a very unique take on the idea of angels. All angel-bloods (Clara is only a quarter and her mom is half) have a purpose. Shortly after puberty they begin to have visions of what they were put on earth to do. Clara learns that her purpose is to save a boy from a forest fire in Wyoming, so her California family packs up and moves.
There are typical high school moments in the book, but for me the most interesting thing is the mythology created about angels and angel-bloods. I want to learn more about this world, about these beings. Some angel-bloods’ purposes are to watch, others are messengers, and there are those who are supposed to interfere in human events in some way. There is conflict between angels. There are angel levels and hierarchies. It's all touched upon here, but not completely fleshed out yet.
In this book, the antagonist isn’t really the Black Wings (fallen angels who have gone against their purpose and what God intends for them), although Clara does have a confrontation with one. The main antagonist is actually Clara herself. As the book progresses and she meets Christian, Clara seems certain she is supposed to fall in love with him. When she instead falls in love with someone else (love triangle! dun, dun, DUN! But seriously, it's not that annoying), Clara finds herself torn between fulfilling her purpose or being with the boy she truly loves.
To me this book doesn’t really end. This felt like only the first act. I think it’s because there are so many open storylines now that Clara has made her decision and things don't go down how anyone had expected them to. There's so much to cover in the next book still: (view spoiler)[Neither Clara nor Christian knows what they should do now that they both technically didn’t complete their purposes. Something tricky is going on with Jeffrey, whose wings are almost completely black now. And Clara’s mom is still hiding things. I imagine all of this will come into play in the next book, and I eagerly await all of it. Especially Jeffrey’s storyline. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more