Book Review #44: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

As told by an embodiment of Death himself, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, a young girl taken in by a German foster family on the brinks of World War II, the bonds she shares with her new family and friends, and the jew she hides in her basement. When she steals the Gravedigger’s Handbook after her biological brother’s funeral, it blossoms in her a love for literature, and, for stealing it.

This book has beautiful and poetic language, and quotes I wish I had written; they were that good. However, if you are not interested in meandering descriptions or flowery language, this may not be the book for you.

Death as the narrator is a unique but inspired choice, as the many terrors and deceased of World War II would be missed through the eyes of a child. It was over 500 pages, and although it took me about a month to get through, it was completely worth the wait. There are even parts of mixed media in this novel; gut-wrenching and visceral as it used many tools of metaphor.

Liesel was not ignorant of the atrocities, nor was she apathetic (not by choice anyway). As the main character, she had some growing to do, some empathy to learn, and stories to tell. She was not annoying, she was at times heartbreaking to learn about. The outright distaste for the difference in others was shown through the actions outside of our group of characters that we followed, even though Molching was such a small town, with a poor Himmel street.

If you tend to be an emotional reader, this book will definitely make you very emotional. I cannot wait to read more by Markus Zusak, as this book completely blew me away. I hope you at least give it a chance; it felt like heart and soul was left on the pages.

 

 

 

five stars
Five Stars!

 

 

Advertisements

Book Review #39: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.

Before I move forward with this review, I do realise that this novel has the definition of a “manic pixie dream girl.” With that being said, however, Looking For Alaska does paint a portrait of a complicated love interest if even that.

Miles, or “Pudge,” seems to fall flat as our main character and narrator; I could count on one hand the intriguing things about him. Pudge, who is supposed to be our main focal point, transcends into this narrator being.  I usually forget he is there most of the time while reading until he decides to say something. Forgettable is not a word I like to associate with the main character. Almost everything even remotely interesting happened around Pudge, whose personality was as dull as an unsharpened pencil.

I found some of the other characters a lot more interesting and developed, like the Colonel. I honestly wished Alaska had been more fleshed out. Other characters that gained importance towards the end, like Takumi, I wish were more developed as well.

Looking For Alaska was separated into two parts, “Before” and “After,” which was then separated into small chapters detailing the days before and after. Only for a moment, the novel had me wondering what pivotal event happened in between with that structural set-up.

The plot overall had just enough engagement to keep me reading. At the end, I was left wondering… what was the point? The pivotal event in the story occurred for a bunch of men (okay, as well as one other minor female character) to achieve a coming-of-age growth and confirming the prior mention of a manic pixie dream girl premise.

Although given this trope, Looking For Alaska did have some good things to say and I didn’t outright hate it.  I even saw some quotes I want to go back and underline if I find the time. However, I can’t really justify giving it a higher rating. My enjoyment was at about a constant three stars for the entire thing so I guess it has consistency? I don’t know, maybe I wasn’t woke enough to understand the literary references?

Looking For Alaska, in short, had its moments where it could have been great, and there was some floppy character development. I’m not sure what this book was trying to say, essentially. Was it that Pudge had turned the thought of Alaska into something almost mythical, a being that was perfectly unperfect when really she was just as fucked up as anyone else? Maybe I need to chew on this book for a while.

 

star-rating-three
Three Stars!

 

Book Review #36: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Jim Kay

The monster showed up after midnight.

As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting, the one from the nightmare he’s had every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, something ancient, something wild. And it wants the truth.

Man. This book was amazing. My first completed book from Patrick Ness and I’m surprised I have not read it sooner than I did. I swear there were tears in my eyes as I read the ending. Definitely, a must read for middle-readers and up.

In A Monster Calls, Conor’s mother has cancer. It’s a reality for many people. This book showed the reality of cancer and the toll it takes, not just on the person who has this horrible disease, but the family and friends surrounding them. Ness truly put a focus on that grief and that gut-wrenching feeling of not being able to do anything but to be there for your family and friends.

The illustrations by Jim Kay were haunting, yet very beautiful and they complemented the story immensely. The style of the book reminded me greatly of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which is another book with paired illustrations and written content. Both books also pack a huge emotional punch. Everything about this book made me say “Yes, this will tear me apart and I love it!”

Ness truly brought Siobhan Dowd’s final idea to life and honoured her in writing A Monster Calls. The lessons and truths put in this story are truly a measure of awesomeness by two amazing writers. The book was so sad, yet filled with meaning.

Star_Rating_five
My Rating