Kim's Reviews > The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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Apr 10, 2012

really liked it
Read in March, 2012

Thoroughly engrossing book. It's told from the perspective of Death, which I didn't like at first. In fact, I remember thinking, "I'm not sure I am going to be able to read this book all the way..."; but it's not as annoying as it sounds, and actually I started to feel somewhat sorry for Death, who has to work so very hard when we humans get it into our heads to, say, go to war, or commit genocide. Set in Nazi Germany, the book takes us into the suffering of everyday Germans, those who are affected by Hitler and Nazism without buying into it. We mostly get the story of a young girl, whose mother is a communist and whose losses keep mounting around her. We also get a hidden-Jew story that manages to feel utterly unlike the many I've read before. It's tragic, as expected from the setting, but it's also precious. By the end I was sobbing, but in that good way where you already know what's going to happen (actually the narrator tells you up front who's going to die, and hints at how, for example), and you need to live through the reading to find the painful parts and get past them, just like the characters who survive do.

I read somewhere that Americans tend to think a story is ruined if they know they end, but that the research (whatever kind it was, I don't remember) shows that we actually are better able to enjoy stories where the outcome is known. (If you're like me, you can think of the many times you have watched a favorite movie [Star Wars, Beaches, When Harry Met Sally...] or re-read a book [Harry Potter? That twin is still going to die at the end of the 7th book and I'm still going to read it and cry every time...]. Knowing what happens lets you focus on the experience instead of worrying about the outcome, or so that research went, and it does seem to make sense.) So while it was odd for the narrator to share the ending before the ending, I came to appreciate it rather than dread it. Totally recommendable book. Also, it's YA, which I didn't realize until after I'd read it. I don't think it matters one way or another; it's a powerful story.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Eliza That was interesting about how we react to the ending if we already know it. And I was only like ten when I read the last Harry Potter book but I cried when Fred died.


message 2: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I even cry when *other people* mention they're about to read that part of the book. Somehow Fred's death is the most affecting literary death I've ever experienced.


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