Book Talk Saturday: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Most people don't know this but I love books. I like reading books. My love for books first began when I was about 9 years old. Years passed and I might have forgotten about books since I became pre-occupied with school and other stuff like music and dancing. Just about recently did I re-discover my passion on books through the form of graphic novels, then shifted to my traditional paperbacks.

 This would be my first sort-of book talk and I'm jumping in - this is not spoiler-free.

Side note--> I hate it that whenever people "review" books, they always end up just talking about how they love/hate the book. That my friends, is not what you call a review. It is simply a mere adoration or loath for a book. If you are going to review a book, review on various aspects like narrative, plot, characters, language, the writing, the themes and morals, the overall literature. I have to say that a few spoilers here and there is essential in giving a decent book review as I believe they make the (always subjective) review a bit more credible. However, I am not claiming that I am a book expert have a keen sense of literature that's why I call mine not a review but simply a book talk - straightforward, maybe brutally blunt, but honest. I may have skipped on technical aspects because my main reason for reading is just the story, no more, no less.

How I understood the plot:
The Book Thief is about a girl named Liesel Meminger, given away by her biological mother to her by then loving foster father Hans Hubermann together with his cuss-loving wife Rosa. The story was set during world war II in Germany. Living under the reign of Hitler, jews were considered as worthless people and were actually treated as such, which eventually became a dilemma in the Hubermann household when a jew came knocking at their door, seeking shelter.

Of course, amidst the setting of the story, there's more in the book than bombs and hiding. Liesel had grown to have a sort fascination over books, then eventually a love-hate relationship with words. And that's pretty much it, in a nutshell so to say. I'm stopping here for the plot. And if you don't want annoying spoilers, you might want to skip on the paragraphs that proceed.

My take on the book:
One reason why I hate reading book reviews prior to actually buying them is that I get engrossed over what people have to say about books to the point that my expectation bar would always rise, review by review. This is somehow what I experienced with the book thief. Bluntly speaking, I was disappointed. Don't kill me please! It's just that I was expecting so much from the book since people mainly gave it good ratings.

See, the book is narrated by death. Everyone seem to say that so when the moment I turned the first page of the book, again, everything became predictable. Although I must admit that narrating a book from the point of view of death is seemingly interesting. It was inspirational at certain angles as well.

Moving on, the characters were pretty realistic. You will easily remember majority of them. It's just quite frustrating for the others because I had a hard time understanding and pronouncing (even in my head) some of the names of the characters since they were in german. If you might ask me, my favorite was Rudy. At the back of my head, I can't help but think that Rudy was really the star of the book.

The book itself is supposed to be slow-paced in order for you to get drawn to the whole story, not to mention, be a little more flexible with your vocabulary because the author definitely had rich wordplay. The book will also make you learn a few german words which I thought was fun. Don't expect to learn basic words though because majority of the german words you will see there is a form of german-favorite cuss. The fault I probably shouldn't have done was that I read the book in a fast-paced manner. I was rushing towards the end since everyone claimed it was the best part. Not to mention my anticipation to finish the book at once since I have a another book waiting to be read at my shelf.

Believe it or not, it took me  a week and two days to finish the book mainly I wasn't particularly captivated by the story. This is just a subjective note though. Don't get me wrong, the story was interesting enough but sadly, it wasn't for me. I easily get put off by draggy side notes. I like authors who tell stories on a straightforward manner and Book Thief was definitely not your straightforward book. I also didn't like the fact that the narrator jumps in and out, telling spoilers of how the characters were going to die and what will happen during their death. That alone mainly killed the anticipation for me. The narrator was somehow the one who will give out spoilers for you. It's a pet peeve for me.

And if you might ask me again, no I didn't end up crying after finishing the book. Yes the ending was sad however, the ending was so friggin predictable, I expected what would happen. again, I blame it on the narrative.

In conclusion:
Don't hate me though me for giving my thoughts on this book. It's just a personal take on the book.  We all read in different ways and for different reasons. Again, I should've read it on a slower pace. Maybe that would have changed my feelings about the book.


Wanda said...

Hi! Wanda here from Read Philippines. Yes i read book thief too for the same reason that the reviews were good but i also didnt think much of it. Thanks for the honesty.

PM said...

I was afraid I was the only one who thought differently about the book :))