If you've never read a book about WWII, this isn't a bad start...

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

Bullet Review:

I feel like I've been listening to this for eons...

If you love World War II books...or alternatively, if you haven't read many WWII books...

If you love to read about loving to read...

If you love metaphors and themes and can see them from a sea of trees...

then you will love "The Book Thief".

I can recognize a "good book" even if I don't care for it, and this book is a prime example. There is nothing really wrong with it, other than it is not my thing. I even thought Death narrating was clever, but I couldn't get past that this is really just yet another WWII book about how awful WWII is.

Maybe if I hadn't read The Diary of a Young Girl and a bajillion other WWII novels, then I could love this. Maybe if I could see the metaphors and themes that everyone else talks about, then I could love this. Maybe if my heart wasn't made out of stainless steel, I could bawl at the end.

But that's not me.

That said, it's still a good book. You'll probably enjoy it much more than I did.

Full Review:

It's just before World War II. An overworked Death tells the tale of a young girl named, Liesel, who heads to stay with a couple, Rosa and Hans Gruber. There she meets up with Rudy and Tommy, learns to read, and basically lives through the terrors of Nazi Germany.

Sometimes, I feel all that I do is rag on books. It seems like any time there is a hugely popular, well-loved, well-received book, I am the one that is like, "Oh, that thing? MEH."

I honestly would never have read this book had it not been for a Book Buddy read. I wouldn't have read it because it is set during a time period I'm not interested (due to extreme burnout): World War II.

While there are times when I (sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not) read things I don't like, these days, I attempt to avoid things that are going to set off the "meh" or "rage" buttons. Young adult contemporary fiction, chick lit, books with romantic triangles, books about the Tudors - all these books get a pass when I check out the summary. 

But I also believe that you really don't know what you like until you try to read it. While you may hate 90% of chick lit, I firmly believe there will be that One Book that you will like. And you will squee and dance in joy because it is awesome. Alternately, you may avoid all Regency fiction, but then read that one book and realize that you actually LOVE Regency fiction! You would never have known had you not given it a chance.

So that's why I listened to "The Book Thief" against my initial reaction.

And to be honest, there really isn't anything wrong - or wrong-er than any other young adult fiction book out there. It's not you, book - it's me.

I loved the narrator of this book. Allan has such a rich and rolling voice, with the most enthusiastic of character voices, it was a joy to listen to.

I also loved the book narrator of Death. He was quite the precocious fellow, upbeat when you might be depressed and rather talkative. I likened his "voice" to that of a cross between Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams. Very unique and compelling.

But the other characters felt very typical for the era. Oh, there wasn't anything particularly wrong with Rosa and Hans, Liesel and Rudy and their neighbors - it's just, I've been there before. Cranky housewife? Yup. Demur, encouraging father figure? Yup again. Girl who loves to read? Are there any other kinds of girls out there? And Rudy, the chipper friend who wants nothing more than a kiss? A dime a dozen.

FEMINIST ME: OK, seriously, Rudy pushing Liesel to kiss him all the time? Not cool, man! Lay off! She said no, so no is no! STOP ASKING ALREADY. She doesn't owe you anything!

FEMINIST ME: And what is UP with having no female friends for Liesel? I'm glad to see there are female characters such as Rosa and the governor's wife, but Liesel has absolutely no female friends like Rudy! WHAT UP MAN!

The story, likewise, is very standard. It's WWII - what do you expect is going to happen? That people are going to dance in the street, singing songs like "All you need is love"?


Um, no.

I'm not saying there is no merit to this story. WWII was an awful time, and for kids that haven't had a chance to be exposed to it, this is a great book to turn to. It's also wonderful to have a book about the joys of reading. But as an avid reader, I don't need to read a book about how wonderful reading is - I just read a book I love.

I know this comes across as an incredibly negative review, which isn't my intent. My point is: this book wasn't for me. It's a great book and all, but I'm not the reader for it. I can think of a lot of people who would adore it (and it's high rating just proves I'm the minority), and I encourage people to check it out.