Thursday, 21 January 2016

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Read: January 19-21  Verdict: 5 Stars

First read in the summer of 2010.
Read for the second time in January 2016.

What, no, I'm not publicly crying at a train station....I lie. I am. I'm publicly crying while standing in a train station because of this book. So many emotions, and feelings and words that just jump out and grab you and tear you up and toss the fragmented bits of your soul into the air. I'm so so so grateful that I'm the kind of person that was blessed to be able to read this book, appreciate it and find the beauty in its words. 

I thought this was amazing the first time I read. Now I've read it again, I honestly felt like I was reading all the words for the time again as they just seemed so much more real and I felt like I was getting so many more emotions and feelings. This book is pretty unqiue with the fact that it's told by Death but here's the thing, Death is a total spoiler whore. He more or less tells the reader who's going to die at the start of the book so then you read the rest, you fall in love with these ordinary people trying to live their ordinary lives under the terrifying shadow of Hitler's Reign and you're torn apart with the knowledge that they're going to die.

More often than not, Death is betrayed as a wicked thing. But I loved remorseful the whole tone of this book is. Death tells the tale, specifically when he's describing the souls he's collected and the terrible acts of war he's seen, sounding like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. We never know who Death gets his orders from, though it does seem to be God, but Death is just the unfortunate character charged with the endless collection of these souls. He appreciates life, and its beauty. He can smell, and see all the beautiful and awfulness in the world. He's so real in this book and there's such a sense of this lonely character almost in chains, forced to take people away that his last words are truly haunting and hard-hitting.

"I am haunted by humans"

I love that quote. It's so beautiful.

I love the description and the prose in this book. I had to keep rereading passages just because I loved how Zusak was able to string words together into a colourful rainbow.

"Liesel observed the strangeness of her foster father’s eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot.”

And the one that always gets me. Sobbed like a baby.

"His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do - the best ones. The ones who rise up and say "I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come." Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.”

I also love reading World War stories set in Germany because so many other books are focused on characters in the UK or France or America and the Germans are, obviously, always the big bad wolf. While many Germans are still bad characters in The Book Thief and All The Light We Cannot See, there's also a point that there are very ordinary people too. People who had no choice but to salute to Hitler or they and their families had to suffer. In The Book Thief, it's both the Nazis and the allies that you end up despising know, Nazism and then the bombing that kills so many of our beloved characters. It's always super interesting being able to look from both sides of the fence.

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