“I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sandcastles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skill is their capacity to escalate.”
A historical fiction, I had a lot of high expectations for this – and it did not disappoint! It quickly shot up my list of favourite books I’ve read this year.
It was quite intimidating, but I really enjoyed it. Written in the perspective of Death, it is a very unique book. I would never have even thought of this as a narrator, and I appreciated how the destruction of human life by other humans was viewed by someone like Death, especially at the time of the Second World War.
“Three languages interwove. The Russian, the bullets, the German.”
- Writing quality: 4.5/5
- Plot movement: 4.5/5
- Characters: 4.5/5
- Enjoyability: 4/5
- Ease of reading: 4/5
- Thought-provoking: 5/5
- Merit and originality: 5/5
- Overall love: 14/15
DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK – SPOILER ALERT!
“It’s hard not to like a man who not only notices the colours, but speaks them.”
Zusak definitely knew how to create suspense! It was a skilled art to be able to directly expose what happened to the characters, and to still make the defining moment emotional for the reader 50 pages later. I found Death delivered news – especially of the tragic variety – very abruptly, which was perfect. It captures the true nature of the deaths in the war.
“Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.”
Max was probably my favourite character. His passive acceptance of his situation and his gratitude towards those who helped him made him a trull honourable person, and it emphasised how deplorable his life became as a result of the persecution.
“His eyes were the colour of agony, and weightless as he was, he was too heavy for his legs to carry.”
I also liked Liesel, Papa, and even Mama – you should never judge a book by her cover! In fact, I can’t think of a single person I despised the whole way through the novel. I think Zusak did this on purpose, to show that the enemies of these characters were not each other, and it wasn’t as simple as a person. It was the war that destroyed them; the abuse of words and the devastating consequences of blind trust in evil people.
“Living was living. The price was guilt and shame.”
As an avid reader, and a lover of words, I liked how the characters (especially Liesel) recognised and appreciated the value of words.
“You didn’t see people. Only uniforms, and signs.”
Although I didn’t feel completely involved and connected to the characters, despite the fact that they were well thought out, and had (mostly) detailed backstories and personalities, I still cried at the end when I thought about the story as a whole. It is a very powerful book, and because I feel like Zusak dropped a lot of him throughout the book that I didn’t pick up the first time, I really want to reread this to find them out.
“The notes were born on her breath, and died on her lips.”
And here are a few more quotes which I really liked:
“He killed himself for wanting to live.”
“She’d have preferred to hear them arguing. Whispering adults hardly inspired confidence.”
“What someone says and what happened are usually two different things.”
“Ilsa Hermann had decided to make suffering her triumph. When it refused to let go of her, she succumbed to it. She embraced it.”
Comment below on your thoughts! Also, feel free to recommend some of your favourites. Are there any book which you would like me to review?
Thank you for reading!