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Showing 1-10 of 111 reviews(2 star). See all 4,740 reviews
on 22 March 2014
I have only given this book two stars as I found I was not reading it for pleasure as I normally read a book but to see what all the fuss was about. Having seen the film which I thought was excellent and hearing people rave about the book I decided to read it, if I had borrowed it from the library I would have returned it after the first few chapters however as I had paid a modest fee I laboured on until the end a chapter a day at bed time.
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on 14 July 2015
Found it tedious. I didnt finish it which is rare for me with a book and I ended up giving it away to somebody who did enjoy it.
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on 2 August 2015
I thought I would enjoy this after having seen the film, but in fact I didn't. I found the writing style irritating and slow, and the constant interruptions from the narrator, Death, got so annoying that I had to give up on the book. I'll watch the film again. I've already given away the book.
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on 22 August 2014
I was encouraged by my daughter to read "The BEST book she's read this year" I waited and waited to become blown away by this book,but unfortunately it did nothing for me. I thought the style it was written in was quirky,with Death as the narrator but the content just did not cut the mustard for me.Having been made utterly speechless watching Schindler's list a long time ago,I expected something in a similar vein but sadly No.i was extremely delighted when I had ploughed through this book,enabling me to start something else. I know it sounds extremely critical of me,however some books do it for some and many don't.
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on 2 July 2014
I so wanted to like this book, but was completely suffocated by the self consciously clever stylistic devices employed by the writer. If he'd concentrated more on character development and explored the difference between German v Nazi more intelligently I would have felt more connected and thus moved by the storyline. Amazed by all the hype and sad that I devoted so many hours of my time to this (book club choice).
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on 18 March 2014
I started this with great hopes. These hopes carried me through a few chapters but then I began to find the imagery irritating. Here are a couple of examples from one paragraph chosen at random:
'the street that looked like oil-stained pages'; and 'the smiles like salt, but decaying fast'. Instead of increasing the reader's understanding, similes like these only confuse.

After reading books like 'Alone in Berlin' I had an expectation that the story might be based on real events but it soon became apparent that it is not.

On the plus side (and the reason for giving more than one star) there are some powerful moments in the book.

If the author put more effort into substance and less into style he might produce something worth reading
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on 24 March 2013
I enjoyed Zusak's writing style. He has a gift for imagery and manages an easy narrative warmth. Personally, I found the personification of death in this story interesting, if a bit forced in parts, and though the whole thing could have been shorter (and the trite Word Shaker bit removed completely), all in all this was a cosy tale where everything fitted together nicely.
Now here's the thing with Holocaust fiction: there has to be truth. Crude, ugly, blessed truth. It's the only way to tackle the monstrosity, the only way to show respect for the victims. So 'cosy' is not a word I should be using in a review about a story set in WWII Germany. But as a character, Liesel is just that. Sure, she has a rough start, but from then on it's all pretty hunky dory, really. She's the Pollyanna of Molching! Her adoptive parents warm to her in the twinkling of an eye. She makes friends with a boy who paints himself black to look like Jesse Owens when he runs (I'm really hoping this one is based on some kind of anecdote from the author's mother, because otherwise the hokery is unbearable). The catatonic Nazi mayor's wife lets her steal her books. She lulls her neighbours' fears during air raids by reading to them aloud. She gives the Jewish man hiding in the cellar reason to live (and inspiration to write a graphic novelette - how marvellous!). She tames her pottymouthed neighbour by (guess what?) reading to her! She's brave enough to get in line with Jewish prisoners being marched through town.
People do die and suffer a bit around Liesel. But the dying and suffering, in fact the whole context of the War, is strangely distant. Okay, she's a child, so in a sense shielded. But events like the ones she faces should expose nerve after nerve after nerve. I couldn't feel it.
What does come out loud and clear is a mega-pitch for books. Now come on. I love books, too. I believe they have great power. But the books in this book are downright miraculous. Every time. When writers write novels about writerly things the risk of implosion is very high (too much wishful thinking, not enough raw reality), and ultimately for me that's what goes wrong here. It's a question of balance: by the end of the novel I felt as though I'd read an almost 600-page fable about a girl on a book raft, without rightful attention being paid to the tsunami of horror she was riding on.
Was it like that for Germans hiding Jews? Like Zusak, I am a child of parents who lived through the War (as teenagers in occupied Holland). My paternal grandparents hid a Jewish baby. My father was sent to a labour camp. Germans took over the hotel run by my mother's family. So I appreciate his desire to 'tell the tale', and of course there are many to be told, from many different sides. It's important. But all I know is this: whenever my grandparents or parents told their 'tales' of the War (and it was very very rarely), they were no cosy-cosy. Everyone was scared. The big word was fear. Fear, fear, fear.
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on 24 May 2013
I have always loved to read books since I was a kid, but until I got my kindle last summer, I rarely seemed to find the desire to read regularly. Now I have it, I have a huge list of books that I'm trying to get through and then write a review on. The books I have on there have been chosen by me for various reasons, some are recommendations from friends, some are ones I just liked the sound of, and others are taken from the reviews on here. The Book Thief falls into the first and last category, so I started reading with high expectations. Those expectations started off being met quite well, but very quickly deteriorated (within the first couple of chapters), and I struggled to finish it. The only reason I stuck with it was because it had been recommended to me so highly by someone who told me very passionately that it was her favourite book ever. She told me that if I didn't cry I must be a cabbage. I guess I am in fact a cabbage.

As in my title, I didn't hate it, but I definitely didn't like it...for various reasons. I thought the plot was lacking and boring in equal measures. I felt the author sees himself as some kind of poetic genius, when in actual fact a lot of the 'poetic' language (I use the term loosely, perhaps 'stylised' might be more suitable)was just totally ridiculous and pretentious. I'm all for stylised, creative language, but this just doesn't make sense most of the time. I'd give a few examples but they becamse too numerous after a while. I started to lose respect for the author quite soon into the book.

The book started with great promise I felt. I loved the novel idea of the narration by death but wrongly thought that was going to continue consistently throughout. It didn't. Obviously when nobody's dying he's not fully involved, but it continues to be narrated by him, which to me didn't make sense and made me feel disassociated from the characters. Death is not emotional, so you'd figure it would be impossible to create emotions in the reader and for me that was definitely the case. Maybe that's what the author intended...maybe he wanted the reader to remain a distant observer of a very significant time in history...I just can't work out why.

I liked the relationship between Liesel and Max, and Liesel and Hans, and that alone stops me giving the book just 1 star...ie hating it. But they didn't develop enough for me, they were very two-dimensional and we could never really get to know them.

All in all....TOTALLY unimpressed and cannot fathom the high ratings. But I guess that's the beauty of books....the appeal of different things for different people.
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on 25 July 2017
I have read many books, both fiction and non-fiction on the subject of WW11 and I must say that this doesn't rank very high, along with, for example, 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas'. And I wonder whether part of the problem lies with trying to write for young adults, but then also marketing the book for adults. The Book Thief tries to be too clever, trendy and different and trips itself up on it's own gimmickry. So many of the metaphors fall painfully short of the mark: are in fact empty e.g. "Drizzle comes down in spades." If he had written 'yesterday was greener than high' I would be just as wise. And the book is full of such phrases. There is also the boring repetition of certain phrases and an overuse of swear words like 'Saumensch' and 'Saukerl'. I wondered too why the author found it necessary to summarise the content at the beginning of each part, and put in bullet points of information in bold type within the chapters themselves. The latter unnecessarily interrupted the flow of the story. There are also several places which don't ring true, like for example stating that when the Jews were brought through the village we are told that they were chained together. The Nazis would not have used metal, which was in short supply, for this purpose, let alone on Jews. And when 'The Standover Man' is drawn on to painted over pages of Mein Kampf, the title can be seen in German, but the (still) visible text below is in English!!! Using Death as a narrator is an interesting idea but one can't help feeling that it is used more for effect than for giving the novel substance; and by allowing it to announce the deaths of characters prior to the event were for me unacceptable spoilers. There were several strong, and good characters, Liesel, Max, Rudy, and Hans Hubermann, but they, and the plot, were often swamped by the style and pretentiousness of the language used by the author. As is often the case these days there was a lot of hype surrounding this book. It did seem worthy of it.
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on 23 June 2014
I have tried so hard to get into this book, I am an avid reader and as it was recommended to me by several people assumed that it was going to improve and I was suddenly going to be gripped. I am now over halfway through and still struggling. I found the story tedious and repetitive and sometimes when I pick it up again I am convinced I have read the same pages over and over. I can feel no empathy with the characters and have read far more powerful accounts of war time Germany. I normally read a book reasonably quickly but I have been reading this (interspersed with other books which I rarely do, but have to have a break from it) for about 5 weeks now and having read some of the other "one and two star" reviews, am now convinced it is time to give up.
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