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The Book Thief: 04/09/12

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a book I've been told by numerous people that would profoundly affect me. I would love it and it would make me cry. Neither happened but I can see why it has had that effect on so many.

Liesel is being sent to a foster family as things are hotting up in Germany. Her mother can no longer care for her and her brother. The book opens with the brother dying on the train.

Her brother's death is the first of many in the The Book Thief. It's a book set in Germany during WWII. Death is to expected. He's also the narrator of the book.

Now here's the problem. Although Death describes himself as the reflection you see in the mirror, I couldn't help but think of a very different Death. ONE THAT TALKS IN ALL CAPS and rides a horse named Binky.

Maybe that's where the problem started. Zusak's Death is as sentimental and burned out by his job as Pratchett's Death sometimes is. This Death also tends to tell his tale in short, pity bursts, each new one starting with a short list of fun facts. This starting and stopping interrupted the flow of the story so that I was only able to read the book in chunks of maybe 10 pages at a time.

That snip by snip reading worked for the first 300 pages but I grew tired of it. As Germany gets into the war and everyone is in danger including Liesel and her foster family, Death's approach to telling things wore thin on my patience. I really wanted him to shut up and let the story unfold. But he never does.

Three stars

Comments (6)

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Comment #1: Monday, April 09, 2012 at 22:42:49

Jeane www.dogeardiary.blogspot.com

I felt the same. If it were reprinted without all the commentary by Death I would like the book so much more.

Comment #2: Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 20:51:24


The book would certainly be shorter and tighter that way!

Comment #3: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 07:42:17

Pocketful of Books

I really like your take on this book. I both loved it and cried my eyes out (as did my Dad when I gave it to him!) but I can totally see why you found the way it is written trying. Death can be a bit interfering and pre-meditate every little thing! I love the comparison to Terry Pratchett's Death- I felt that too! They are world weary Deaths! x

Comment #4: Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 20:52:14


World-weary... that's a good description of both Deaths.

Comment #5: Monday, April 16, 2012 at 20:31:57


The Book Thief is my very favorite book, but I don't know if I'll ever re-read it for the reasons you just listed. Luckily, Pratchett's Mort is not big on my radar, so I avoided that comparison. But after reading I Am the Messenger by Zusak, his choppy style irritated me a little. I'm afraid it would ruin The Book Thief for me on a re-read.

Comment #6: Monday, April 23, 2012 at 10:42:03


Mort was the book that introduced DEATH but he shows up in a number of books in the Discworld series. I just haven't reviewed the others yet, so I can only point to the first. I do have I am the Messenger on my wishlist but I don't think I'll be counting either of Zusak's books as my personal favorites.

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