Tuesday, March 23, 2010
"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
My grade: B
When I bought this book, I didn't exactly know (or perhaps I have forgotten in the meantime) that this was another Holocaust novel. As probably the majority of us out there, I have read way too many of these, especially lately, and wasn't too keen on divulging into another one. And rightfully so: this book (as ALL Holocaust books) is not for the light of heart.
Aside from the story line, which I'm sure you at least have an idea of, stylistic twists are likewise present. In my opinion, though, they do not live up to their full potential. This novel is narrated by death itself - I love the concept - but Zusak doesn't take advantage of this fully. Most of the time, the reader forgets that death has anything to do with this, and the narrator could be absolutely anybody - fly on the wall, third-person omniscient, my grandmother. Likewise, Zusak tries to give death a kind of personality, and in my opinion fails. He doesn't stay true to character (death, I mean) and in the end, is by and large a flop.
Additionally, what I think Zusak tries to do is poke fun at, essentially, thrillers and working up the tension in novels, in general. I had a huge problem with this: a novel such as this, a Holocaust novel, is no place to poke fun at anything, really. One can definitely sense Zusak's attempt at lightheartedness, especially in the beginning, and his sense of humor, but I wish he had chosen a different subject, then, to display all of his talents.