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.

8 comments:

Amanda said...

I felt the same way about this book. I wanted to love it - so many people have said such good things - but I just couldn't get into it. It felt a little gimicky. I ended up giving it 3 stars too.

Literary Feline said...

This is one I keep meaning to get to, but just haven't yet. I think all the rave reviews have put me off just a little--will it be as good as everyone says? Coming across your review is a bit of a relief, I must say. I still want to read it, of course, but maybe I can let go of some of those high expectations.

Kim L said...

I felt like I got into this book and started to really enjoy the rhythm of the book, but it was definitely strange at first! And yes, I definitely agree that the characters make the novel what it was.

Alice Teh said...

I had enjoyed this book. I'm glad it worked out for you in the end, Rhinoa. :)

Nymeth said...

It took me some 70 or 80 pages to get into this book properly, but once I did I really loved it. The foreshadowing actually worked for me, especially because even knowing what would happen I couldn't help but cry like a baby when it did!

Kailana said...

I had the worst time getting into this book! I still haven't finished it. I think I am going to be reading it with Chris at some point this year!

valentina said...

This has definitely made my all-time favourites list, I'm sorry it didn't work as well for you. It's true it took a me a little to get into it, but I think it was only 5 or 6 pages:P
I also thought the foster parents were wonderful, but I think I loved everything about it!

Anna said...

It took me about 20 pages or so to get used to Zusak's writing style, but it didn't bother me that I knew what was going to happen beforehand. It was the getting to that point that was so interesting.

I hope it's okay that I linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric