Book Review: The Book Thief


Today, it seems like a special day. Thanksgiving comes next week, but that is not all. However, that has nothing to do with today's post. As I stated previously, I received three books from my sister as Christmas presents. I already reviewed one of them, which brings the number down to two remaining, which is no longer the case. I finished the second and only one remains. This post is a review on that book, which is called The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

The book is set during the time of World War II, which many of the grandparents of my generation lived through, in Germany. A girl and her six-year old brother are to be sent to a new home, after her mother supposedly abandoned them. However, only the girl reaches her new home in Himmel Street, as her brother died during the trip. Before she reached her new home, the girl took a book that gave her the titular alias, at least in the narrator's eyes. The book follows her life in her new home, as well as her escapades stealing books and the hardships she faced.

In all honesty, I cannot say there is a whole lot I liked about this book. Many books I come across, I do enjoy and see a good value in, but there are a few that are okay, such as this title, or incredibly awful, such as The Great Gatsby. The few things I did enjoy were the characters' relationships, one message, and the ending. The relationships seemed pretty realistic and I did enjoy how the protagonist felt pain about losing people. I myself hate to lose those important to me, almost like every human. In that sense, it was pretty real, just like the children playing, but that was about it. The last thing I will cover, as I do not want to spoil things, is the message that I spotted. The protagonist befriended the mayor's wife, who had lost one of her children to a war, but ultimately felt betrayed when they did not want her mother's cleaning services anymore. At that point, the protagonist realized that words could hurt people, since she tore the mayor's wife down. We do not always realize it, but that is certainly true. Most of all, as the book showed, it hurts ourselves, since the protagonist thought she was going to hell because of that incident. Many people feel that way when the say hurtful things. After all, we cannot ever take back what we say, just like killing a murderer will never bring back the murder victim. The book did not have very many good points, but the good points that were there were great.

The bad parts were numerous, but only a few would have made me actually want to put the book down and never pick it up again, which would have made me miss the good parts. For example, the pacing was so slow. The narrator took too long between the time he introduced himself and when he started the story. The audience does not really care about the narrator to just sit there and read so ramblings about the narrator himself and statements like, “Oh, there is a bird. Do you see the bird doing such and such?” That is exactly what the opening felt like, but I continued anyway. Not only did the narrator pointlessly spend too much talking about himself, but he also took what seemed like over one hundred pages to even grab my interest. In addition to slow pacing, the narrator interrupted the flow of the story too much just to continue his ramblings. Do we really care what the narrator is doing? This is not his story, especially as he is not even the protagonist. The narrator's actions do not matter, as he is supposed to be spectator. This applies to matter whether the narrator is Death, which it certainly is, or Peggy Sue. The reader only cares about one thing and that is the protagonist's struggles. Furthermore, this book is set in Germany, but the audience is primarily English, so the author could have at least just used English dialog. German would have worked if it were on a television screen, since subtitles can be used, but it does not work in a book where the audience is mainly English. The bad part outweighed what little good the book had.

People claim that traditional publishing bring out the best stories and writers, but then you have overhyped works like this. I am pretty sure that this was only published due to a preconceived strong interest in World War II and definitely does not deserve to be a classic, just like The Great Gatsby does not deserve to be called a classic. I strongly recommend staying away from this title. I will keep it, but it is definitely not my favorite book in the world.

What is your opinion of the book? Do you agree with me or not? Feel free to comment.

Copyright © 2011 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.