Monday, May 3, 2010

Book a Week Project: Book Five--The Book Thief

This week I've chosen another Young Adult novel for my BaW project--though it certainly wasn't the breezy read I was expecting. Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, is, without a doubt, one of the most harrowing and haunting holocaust narratives I have read. As you can see from the cover (not the cover of my edition, but a nicer one than I had), the primary figures in the novel are a young girl, Liesel Meminger, and Death. Yes, Death with a capital D, who happens to narrate the book. Initially I thought it a bold move to choose Death as the narrator of a holocaust story, but later realized just how perfect and powerful Zusak's decision was for this book. 

I think the most irritating (and simultaneously fascinating and moving) elements of the story was the use of foreshadowing. Throughout the text, Death hints at tragedy, plays with our expectations, and sometimes, when you least expect it, comes right out and tells you when a character you're reading about will die. This happens without warning, and in several instances involves an important character. Death will set up this elaborate image of the character, only to say something like this: 

      ABOUT ____________________
He didn't deserve to die the way he did.
In your visions, you see the sloppy edges of paper still stuck to his fingers. You see a shivering blonde fringe. Preemptively, you conclude, as I would, that _____ died that very same day, of hypothermia. He did not. Recollections like those merely remind me that he was not deserving of the fate that met him a little under two years later.
I omitted the name of the person to there wouldn't be any spoilers. But yeah, that "announcement" comes nearly 300 pages before the character actually dies. It kind of "ruins" the suspense, but also...I don't know...makes it more intense I suppose. It definitely makes every scene of that character after the fact more poignant and special, which is unusual for a novel. I literally have never seen a book with as much foreshadowing as this--and yet...I wasn't as bothered with it as I expected. At the end, I think it was the reason that this book made me cry.

Well, I still have a paper to write on this, so I'll come back to this response later on. I still have more to say, but time, as you can see, is not my friend. (Though maybe Death is).

Recommendation: Would recommend if you want a dense and sad book that's awesome. 

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