Thursday, September 2, 2010

First the colors. Then the humans. That's usually how I see things.

This is the second book I've read because of reviews from fellow book bloggers (the first was Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You) so thanks to everyone who read and suggested The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I underestimated how long it would take me to read Tropper's book and all of my other books were packed for the move so I was at a bit of a loss as to what to read next.  I started reading Lamb again but Boyfriend is currently in the middle of it so he was anxious to get me another book and get Lamb back.  Even though he's been reading it for about 10 years (or like 5 months but it feels like 10 years).

So we were out shopping and I decided I'd buy a new book so he could go back to not reading Lamb.  I saw both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Book Thief sitting on a shelf.  Now, I'm supposed to be reading TGwtDT for my book club (apparently I'm the only one to have read What's My Name, Fool? and everyone picked another book before our meeting) but I wasn't really in the mood for it.  I've read mixed things about Dragon Tattoo but excellent things about The Book Thief so I'll just have to rush to get the book club book finished in time at some other date.

First of all, I didn't realize The Book Thief is considered a children's book.  I'm halfway through the book and it wasn't until this morning when I glanced at all the awards listed on the back of the book and saw "Winner of the Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children's Literature".  What now?  This book is?  Really?  I know it deals with children and I was thinking that the sentences are very simple but it doesn't feel like it's talking down to the audience. I thought it was a stylistic choice that works for the narrator.  Maybe it's because the subject is the Holocaust that I didn't think of it as a children's book.  Maybe I'm not familiar enough with children's lit to know it unless it's very obviously for children.  Now that I've typed that I don't even know if I could describe the rules for "very obviously for children".  Roald Dahl comes to mind.  As does Louis Sachar.  OK I won't keep naming children's authors but what I am going to say is this book doesn't feel like those.  It feels more mature than a children's work.

Death (with a capital D for those familiar with Moore's work A Dirty Job) is the narrator.  It feels a bit like a gimmick, that Zusak could have just made an outside person the narrator and not have it be Death.  But the fact that Death is the narrator didn't distract me from the book and it gives the opportunity to have an omnipotent unbiased narrator.  The story can explore so many more other characters that a single human narrator wouldn't be able to look at.

As I mentioned, I'm only about halfway through the book so I hope to have additional concluding thoughts but so far the book is very touching and very moving and I'm really enjoying it. 

Title quote from page 3.