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Julian Meynell's Books

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Zusak's The Book Thief

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

I thought this was a YA book, but it isn't really although it would be perfectly fine for teenage readers. It is an experimental, albeit not very experimental novel. The novel is written in very terse sentences at times reminiscent of business English. I say that I enjoyed the style of it. IT is also too long for what it is and the characters are OK, but not immensely compelling. The book is also narrated by Death. He's not my favorite Death, and I don't think that he works as a character.

The book is set on the homefront of Nazi Germany during WWII. I don't feel that Zusak got this quite right. The novel focuses on people who are psychologically resisting the Nazi's in their own quiet ways, but the nature of this resistance is not quite correct. The realities of it would be more ambiguous than that. However, it is refreshing for someone to write about this topic. The end is the weakest where Zusak becomes overly sentimental. His idea that Hitler stole language is not deeply gone into.

Nothing in the book is very compelling or very well done. On the other hand nothing is appallingly done either. It is all very competent, and nothing feels wildly off. So I could easily flip around the negative comments above and turn them into positive ones. Death is not terrible, the characters are real and so on.

I don't feel that this is a book that people ought to read, but I don't think that it is a book that people ought to avoid either. It's alright.