Monday, July 25, 2011

The Book Thief

If you haven't read it, DROP EVERYTHING AND READ IT NOW. The Book Thief is about Liesel, a young girl who grows up during World War II and, at a young age, experiences an inordinate amount of heartbreak and loss. Markus Zusak's writing style is magical and mysterious and eloquent, but he only uses words that are necessary. No superfluity here.
Zusak writes from Death's point of view, and I love his personification of Death. To him, Death isn't the evil, heartless being that gleefully steals people's souls from their bodies when they least expect it. Instead, Death is just doing his job. He ferries people's souls from the earth gently, delicately; he cares for the people he sees. He says, "They say that war is death's best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating on thing, incessantly: 'Get it done, get it done.' So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you, He asks for more."
Death's view of the world is dominated by color. He says, "People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment... Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses." His favorite kind of sky is "a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate." Liesel's foster father has silver eyes. Her best friend has lemon hair. Clouds are the color of copper. The usage of color created a very obvious tone for each scene and often reflects the inner nature or personality of the object or character more than the outside appearance. Rudy, the lemon-haired boy, was a beacon of hope in this book. His bright, yellow innocence and joy were starkly contrasted with the red and black hatred that loomed over him and Liesel.
I think the thing I love most about this book is the way it emphasizes the power of words. Zusak tells about Liesel reading a novel aloud in a bomb shelter, calming and distracting the people hiding there. Her love of words creates a bond of friendship between herself and a young Jewish man they hid in their basement. Zusak also talks about how Liesel used hateful words to hurt others, how Hitler used words to move nations and kill millions. Saviors. Destroyers. Manipulators. Comforters. Words are incredibly powerful tools, and Zusak is a master wielder.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love this book. Now I want to read it again. I did just finish The Great Gatsby so maybe I'll go back to it. It was either this or more Harry Potter, haha.