It has been a long time since I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning simply because I couldn't put a book down. Great story, clever, very engaging and...moreIt has been a long time since I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning simply because I couldn't put a book down. Great story, clever, very engaging and unpredictable.
The descriptions of the the victims were awfully gruesome and I almost stopped reading because it just made my stomach churn. But I'm really glad I kept going. For one thing, there are only a few murder victims so the great story is worth wading through the relatively few graphic details. But also, I realized that Pearl is just being very true to Dante. When I read the Divine Comedy in college (easily one of my favorite classes EVER), I understood the punishments but I was reading in the original language--old Italian--so it didn't sink in for me like it probably should have. Dante showed no mercy in Inferno. Basically, the Divine Comedy is gruesome, so a book about it really has to have some gore.
Five-star rating aside, one thing I found a little irritating was that Holmes, throughout the first 90% of the story, is rendered as such a blundering, mousy fool, and Longfellow is pretty much infallible. Example: (p. 123) “Holmes wondered whether Longfellow resented him for it—whether he was capable of resentment or whether he was, as he was with so many unsavory human emotions, immune.” Even his sense of smell is almost godly. Example: (p. 126) “His sense of smell was, advantageously, limited: It allowed him the pleasure of spring flowers and other agreeable aromas but screened out anything noxious.” Seriously??? He’s so perfect that he can only smell flowers? I just thought it was a tad unbelievable, dare I say, absurd?
And to top off Holmes’s lowliness, he just happens to be an asthmatic. Oh, and he is virtually useless except as a messenger boy. Even at the medical examination of Reverend Talbot, Oliver Wendell Holmes—a renowned doctor—contributes nothing of value. I just kept thinking, “Come on, Pearl, throw the poor guy a bone!”
And alas, in the end, he does. But even if he hadn’t, this was a fabulous read. (less)
This book is definitely unlike any I've ever read before. The most obvious reason is that Death is the narrator and that he frequently "interrupts" th...moreThis book is definitely unlike any I've ever read before. The most obvious reason is that Death is the narrator and that he frequently "interrupts" the reader to interject his thoughts or extra information. I love the idea of Death as the narrator. While reading this book I wondered on several occasions how different characters in the book would be narrating or how a third-person narrator would interpret the events. It was a totally new reading experience for me, thoroughly enjoyable...in that sense.
I personally enjoy reading books about the Holocaust, not because I'm some morbid freak or anything but I think I enjoy books that really make me FEEL something, especially if that something is outrage that moves me to action or to personal change. However, this book more than any other Holocaust or oppression-themed book, was unusually depressing. Really, Zusak uses his uncommon talent for word artistry and storytelling to just make the reader plain sad. Luckily, Death has a dry but wonderful sense of humor to kind of lighten the mood every now and then. Of course, he is Death, so how light can it really get, right?
And speaking of Zusak's writing...wow. It is just beautiful. I just kept thinking that all the way through. I feel the same way when I read Khaled Housseini. Both authors make me reread certain passages over and over again simply to enjoy the way they wrote them. Combine that with their compelling storytelling that makes me want to KEEP reading and that's really saying something.
The one thing I didn't really enjoy about this book's style is the interjections by Death. I kind of just found them distracting and awkward. Of course, they may have been meant to distract and the awkwardness could obviously be because I've never read a book that uses that technique. Regardless, a great book.
But I have to be honest,I need a lighter book next so I'm reading "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". :)(less)
I wish I could have made it through this entire book. I actually attempted to read this before I saw the musical and almost didn't see the musical bec...moreI wish I could have made it through this entire book. I actually attempted to read this before I saw the musical and almost didn't see the musical because of it (which would have been terribly tragic). Basically, I LOVE this story and all the themes surrounding it (individualism, good vs. evil, what defines good and evil, some 1984-esque stuff,etc) and it's packed with powerful irony. Unfortunately, I found the book too offensive to get through. The language and graphic imagery were pretty shocking stuff. I gave it 3 stars because I love the story but I can't give it 5 because of the fact that I couldn't bring myself to finish it. Who knows, maybe I'm just a prude.(less)