Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 584
Format : Teenage Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge
Narrated by Death, this is a tale set in Nazi Germany as he collects the souls of the dead. At this time there are more than enough dying to keep Death busy, but still he is drawn to young girl Liesel whose brother dies on a train to a new foster family. Her father has been taken to a concentration camp and her mother will soon follow him leaving Liesel alone. Her foster mother is strict and swears constantly in German which Zusak helpfully translates for us, but Liesel strikes up a fast friendship with her foster father who has a love for playing the accordian.
The story follows Liesel and the other inhabitants of Himmel Street and the consequences of Max coming to live with her as he is Jewish and remains hidden in their cellar. Liesel learns to read and steals a series of books which gives her and the novel their title. It is a tale of friendship, loss, bravery and cruelty.
I know that most people I have spoken to have loved this tale, but it didn't grab me until over half way through. I kept nearly giving up on it, but persevered. I felt like I had read the story before and that the narrative was very repetitive. Zusak kept saying what was going to happen later in the story, but took ages to actually get there and tell it properly which I found most annoying. The thing that saves it is the characters. They were excellent (especially Liesel's foster parents) and saved it from a much lower rating.