184 of 204 people found the following review helpful
A 'clever' book, but not for everyone,
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)
I am ambivalent towards this book. The writing style was definitely unique; I enjoyed the frequent intermissions by the narrator, which gave the story a light-hearted and a nostalgic back-in-your-childhood feel. The ending was particularly well done - poignant, perhaps tear-jerking for many readers.
However, I felt the characterisation altogether a little weak - there were very few characters I could care about; many of them appear to be cardboard cutouts of stereotypical personalities. The story meanders a lot in the middle of the book without much really happening and most of the events seem to have no purpose at all. All in all, I don't know what this book wants to be. It doesn't deliver the full atmosphere of what it was like living in Nazi Germany, as I had expected; nor is it a simple idyllic bildungsroman. It is neither happy nor depressing; its target audience appears to be neither for adults nor for children. Many would undoubtedly argue that it is precisely this ambiguity that makes the book so enjoyable; I believe it is a matter of taste whether you like those kinds of books or not.
If there is one word I would sum up the book with, it would be 'clever' - the structure certainly is ingenious and the narration with Death works very well in some parts. However, I do think that Zusak had tried a tad too hard; I felt the basics of a good book - the characters, the plot and writing style - had suffered as a result of pursuing style over content. While some people (as testified by the many positive reviews) would love this book, others will find it is not entirely up their street. Try it, and find out!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Jan 2010 14:23:28 GMT
D. Galstaun says:
Definitely agree, it's a clever book, fresh and inventive. However, about a third of the way into the novel, you begin to feel the author is preoccupied more with his own verbal flair than the characters or story, which is a real shame. Some of the lines are altogether cringe worthy too, so much so that I had to stop reading e.g. It kills me sometimes, how people die! Still, I guess it's a bit like Strene's Tristram Shandy - it sticks in the mind, whether you like it or not.
Posted on 2 May 2012 13:06:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 May 2012 13:07:12 BDT
I Heart Books says:
Oh my gosh, it is like you crept into my mind, extracted the words I have been trying to cleverly knit into a review and posted for the world to see. I could NOT have put this better myself if I had sat here for a month of Sundays. I totally agree with your review, from the amount of stars assigned to the final punctuation mark at the end of your sentiments. :)
Posted on 28 Oct 2013 20:33:19 GMT
In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2014 15:53:37 GMT
How on earth is it a patronising review? I found it very helpful and informative. I started The Book Thief years ago and didn't take to it. It gets a lot of 5-star reviews and also some 1 and 2-star reviews but, often, the 3-star reviews are the most helpful and balanced; especially for those who are thinking about re-starting a novel. They're neither gushing nor totally dismissive. Based on this review, I'm not certain I would revisit the novel. I recall finding the style rather annoying; as though the author was trying to be too clever. I simply couldn't lose myself in the book and was aware the whole time that I was reading something someone had written (the best books, I find, are where you totally lose yourself in the story because the writing is so fluid; you lose the sense of an author and are simply carried along by the prose). This didn't happen with The Book Thief and this review makes me think that I won't like it any better a second time. It's far from a patronising review - just very well balanced. And, since some people are divided on the novel, you can't say fairer to people than that they should try it for themselves.
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2014 18:16:10 GMT
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