Emily May's Reviews > The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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Feb 10, 2011

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bookshelves: young-adult, historical-fiction, 2011

I hate it when this happens, I truly do.

It makes me feel wrong inside when everyone else loves a book that I find to be underwhelming... I mean, what's wrong with me?? Did I not get it?? Obviously it must be a lack of intelligence or something because everyone seems to rate this 5 stars. I was looking through my friend reviews hoping that someone would share my opinion - at least a tiny bit - and seeing 5 stars, 5 stars, 4.5 stars, 5 stars...

I can appreciate that Markus Zusak is a very talented writer, some of the phrases he uses are beautiful and highly quotable - more reminiscent of poetry than prose. And the story idea? A tale narrated by Death and set in Nazi Germany... original and ominous.

But it was the story-telling that never really worked for me. This is one of those incredibly slow, subtle books that are told in a series of anecdotes and are meant to cleverly build up a bigger picture... but the stories just didn't interest me.

I could imagine I was reading a collection of short stories (and not a full-length novel) about playground fights, developing friendships, WWI stories and death. The book felt almost episodic in nature.

These stories are supposed to come together and form a novel that is all kinds of awesome, but it was so bland. I also think that nearly 600 pages of "subtlety" can make you want to throw yourself off the nearest tall building... anyone read To the Lighthouse and spend 99% of it just wishing they'd get to the effin' lighthouse?!

I'm giving this book 3 stars for the pretty words and the concept. But other than that this book unfortunately won't stay with me. I find it an easily forgettable novel. I'm sorry :(

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Quotes Emily May Liked

Markus Zusak
“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Reading Progress

February 10, 2011 – Shelved
October 28, 2011 – Started Reading
October 30, 2011 –
page 155
October 31, 2011 –
page 317
57.43% "There's obviously something wrong with me... GR members, why am I not loving this?? :("
November 1, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-50 of 86) (86 new)

Alyssa Beware: tears fall here.

Emily May I've heard :( But this has been on my TBR for too long so I'll just have to break out the kleenex.

Bonnie It's been known to happen. We can't ALL love the same books! :D

Emily May Yes but when EVERYONE ELSE seems to, I'm thinking "okay... now what did I miss?" LOL

message 5: by Deb (new)

Deb There are no bad books, just the right book at the right moment. This isn't the moment for you and this book.

Trust me, I enjoy fantasy but have only managed to read Tolkien once. ;)

Emily May Haha, trust me, you should receive a medal for managing to read Tolkien once :)

Bonnie I felt the same way when I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. As I'm sure you know, everyone loved it (including you - I see your 5 star review :P). 5 stars across the board. I totally felt like I had read a completely different book. But oh well, it happens.

message 8: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana If it makes you feel any better, I have the same problems with Zusak myself. I tried this book and tried his others, but it's always been a struggle, I am not sure why. His writing skills and his characters are all fine, but, but... something is just not there. But what can you do, right?

Emily May Thank you both, and Tatiana, that makes me feel so much better about it :)

@Bonnie I know what you mean about feeling like you read a different book, I've had that quite a few times. I suppose if we all had the same opinions the book review industry would be very small.

message 10: by Limonessa (new)

Limonessa Honest review. I haven't read it yet despite several death threats, but I'm really curious! I'm sure I won't stop reading your reviews.

Emily May Thanks Lisa, I'm glad to hear it :)
You should read it as it seems to blow most people's minds. I look forward to reading your review :)

Minli I wasn't that taken in by this book either (and you rated it higher than I did)--my main problem was that I was far too aware of how the book was emotionally manipulating my reading experience. It's like being backstage at a performance and seeing all the mechanics.

Emily May Hmm, that's an interesting way of putting it. For me, I'm not sure exactly what it was but it never lived up to my expectations.

message 14: by Dominika (new) - added it

Dominika I'm using the android goodreads so I can't like your review (what a stupid thing, by the way), so I can only comment;) anyway, great review and don't be sad!!!~ Nothing wrong with you;) Happened to me a few times too (Nightshade. seriously bad bad bad shit and I don't get why so little people agree;p), I guess happens to all of us. I sometimes feel guilty for liking a book that almost no one else does! Makes me feel too stupid or something;))

Emily May Thanks! :) And I've also experienced liking a book that everyone else didn't... though, to be fair, that usually happens when they all saw the conclusion to the mystery coming a mile off and I remained clueless til the last page ¬_¬ hehe

Stephen Great review, Emily, and thanks for the kind words about mine. I'm glad I am not alone in my reaction to this book. So many wonderful components that for some reason didn't move me as much as I had expected. At some point, I am going to give this a re-read and see if I have a different experience the second time around.

Jasprit great review emily, theres always some books out there that arent always everyones cup of tea, but i enjoy reading your reviews because youre always so completely honest and you dont sugar coat everything. dont worry i dont think i ever could stop reading your reviews :)

Emily May Thank you so much Jasprit :) I do try to be as honest as possible, even when that doesn't fit with the popular opinion.

message 19: by Marie (new) - added it

Marie I recently read this writing article and it covered all the reasons this book didn't work for me. http://writerunboxed.com/2012/09/13/t... Maybe it will make you feel better about your opinion? :)

Ashley Moler I loved the book but I know exactly how you feel when you don't like something everyone else loved. I completely agree with Deb about reading the right book at the right moment, I'm currently thinking about re reading a book that's a favorite amongst my friends again just to see if I feel differently this time around.

Emily May I do that quite a bit, Ashley. I convince myself that it must have been me and try again. Sometimes it actually pays off - like the book I'm reading at the moment - and you enjoy it more the second time :)

message 22: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie Williamson This is how I felt about Code Name Verity. Hoping that doesn't happen again here, but we'll see.

Emily May Good luck, Natalie!

message 24: by Amin (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amin Muhaimin Me too...I was the same. I don't know where to put the book. Most of the people put it higher and I didn't fine it the same as they were.

message 25: by Guy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Guy Portman Couldn't agree with you more Emily. I enjoyed reading your review.

Emily May Thank you, Guy :)

Wendy Darling It's hard being the black sheep, isn't it? Baaaaa! But now I can cuddle with you in the pen.

message 28: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Great review, Emily. If I hadn't done the readalong with Wendy and co. at The Midnight Garden, I would've been wondering what was wrong with me too. I liked the book but I didn't have enough of an emotional connection with the characters or the story to love it.

Emily May @Wendy *cuddles* Always, Lol. It's reassuring that you had the same reaction :)

@Lisa Thank you :) Exactly, it was okay... just nothing special, IMO.

message 30: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth Margo Agree. a lot of clever ,repetitive anecdotes leading nowhere.And bad writing in the Liesel/Rudy romance, where i couldnt figure why she wouldnt let him kiss her . Ithink Death should have told us what happened to Liesel's real parents- Another thread left hanging.

Damian Dubois I definitely don't think you're an idiot but I have to disagree with you concerning this book being forgettable with no staying power. A superbly written book with both wonderful and haunting imagery, this will definitely stay with me for the years to come.

PS: Your reviews are always good to read ;)

message 32: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth Margo I thought maybe I was an idiot for not liking everything 100% about this book. But no work of the imagination is perfect and therefore beyond criticism, however much our emotional response might be to it.I agree the writing style is superb,the descriptions,the ability to evoke the inner Liesl. But thats not enough. Plot and story count too, and those I find uneven.

Kathryn Hartzell I've found that this is how a lot of people feel on this book. While I love it, most of the people I've lent it to don't find what I did inside it.

message 34: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Kindervatter I agree with you completely.

message 35: by Ray (new)

Ray I have not read this book but I feel completly like that when I read the books that other like WOW!!! and I don't.

Tonya Emily, I feel EXACTLY like you do! I read the reviews to see if I wasn't the only one who felt let down upon completion of the book! I loved the story but just felt the telling of it lacked! Having death as a narrator didn't do it for me! I would rather have seen death presented in this view as an aside point rather than THE point of view . I'm drawn to literature, as a whole, concerning this topic, so I feel like I've been cheated in the telling! Thanks for sharing!

Artistgirl454 It's okay, it happens to all of us! When I read Witch Wizard i did not see AT ALL what everyone was raving about! It had some funny jokes ( like: "Haven't you ever heard? Tricks are for kids!") and a good story line, but I just didn't like it! Honestly, I hated it! I wanted to stab my eyeballs out with sticks! I tried to enjoy it, but overall I just ended up skimming most pages after page 60.

message 38: by Flor (new) - rated it 5 stars

Flor De verano I loved this book! It's my favourite book ever.

message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

This book is sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. My friend, Bella, is reading and loves it SO much. My English teacher read it, and loved it. Alas, I fund your review and I'm not so sure anymore. It hasn't been on my tbr for long. But it's going to have to wait, for there are other books on my shelf.

That was extremely corny, I just want to read the book and haven't yet.

message 40: by Giaele (new) - added it

Giaele I'm still reading it, 70% or so, and I'm starting to get tired, I have the same feelings as you have and I'm quite disappointed because my expectations were very high. This book is a lot of people's favorite and... I feel weird

Emily May :( I hope it picks up for you. But I've had quite a few people comment saying they were disappointed after hearing such great things about this novel. I guess no book can work for everyone.

message 42: by Zhou (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zhou I feel the same way too. I think I would have liked it a little more if I didn't have such high expectations for it.

message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Idk, I haven't read it, or read anything in the perspective of death.

Emily May Zhou wrote: "I feel the same way too. I think I would have liked it a little more if I didn't have such high expectations for it."

I understand that feeling completely.

message 45: by S. (new) - rated it 3 stars

S. It is a forgettable book. You're not the only one to have read it and gone "...meh".

Cristina same here .. double let down: high expectations while reading the book, the second when watching the movie, which excluded so many things and was mostly a studio movie

message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, I'm on the last third of the book right now and am worried by how dull I'm finding it, despite how in love I was with the narration and original concept when I first started it. I really appreciate this review and now feel less alone :) I know just what you mean... the short stories and anecdotes just aren't interesting to me.

Emily May In my opinion, this book is built on an amazing premise but is too dull in execution :/ Obviously, I am in the minority when I say that, but I'm glad to hear I'm not alone :)

Lianna I get you! I felt exactly the same towards this book. You start to doubt your own judgement and wonder if you actually gave it the time it deserves. It was a 3 for me too.

Sarah I literally JUST finished this book, and this review articulates everything I felt about it. You’re definitely not alone :)

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