Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Review: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

This is one of the finest books I've read in many years. Not just for the genre, not just for a young adult novel, not just for the subject matter. This is one of the finest books I've read in many years, period.

I was immediately drawn in by the story and I found the narrative choices original without being trite. Approaching the book from such a perspective allowed the narrator to guide the story in a way that tapped a deep emotional well within me and shaded the poignancy of the accounted moments with an acute awareness of the historical reality of WWII.

Liesel is written with a delicate sensitivity for the emotions of little girls. She is thoughtful and fragile but simultaneously stubborn and hardened and her persona is an accurate reflection of the precociousness necessary for a little girl like her to survive in such a harsh world. She is an admirable heroine and a strong role model, notable for her courage despite having lived a life such as hers.

Further, each character within Liesel's story is assigned their own unique traits and demeanors, which should be the case in any story, but is often difficult for some authors to do. While some characters could have easily been stereotyped sidekicks or stereotyped strict parents or any one of the cliches often found in these sort of stories, they have been developed into rich explanations of human character and the delicate threads that hold relationships together. They are reflections of Liesel as much as Liesel is a reflection of each of them, and the story comes alive in the moments in which these relationships are investigated.

The book also manages to approach the story of the Holocaust without resorting to the same old stories, the same old sorry tales that have been written and rewritten time and time again. This is a different story, and it feels like a different story when you read it, but still manages to communicate the importance of remembering these atrocities in the scope of human history.

But most importantly, this book is engaging. Even at 500+ pages, I read it in mere days because I was so excited to find out what happened next. Liesel reminds us of the power of words, the power of books to transport us outside of our own world and into someone else's, and Liesel's is a world that everyone ought to visit.

This review was reposted and expanded from my review at Good Reads. Oh, you love reading and reviewing books, too? Join! We can be friends!

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