I listened to THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak in the audio book format read by Alan Corduner. Set in Nazi Germany, it’s a somehow new twist on the same tale of Germans living in a repressive regime, sometimes going along and sometimes rebelling against the fascism and murder. Here are the things I adored about the book:
1. The Narrator
I loved Death as the narrator and Cordurner as the voice I heard over my car stereo. Cordurner did an excellent job portraying the both Death and the characters in the novel. I pictured the dark figure clearly when he spoke as the Reaper and wasn’t bothered when he used a higher pitched voice for the young girl.
2. The German
Once upon a time I spoke German and it was delightful to listen to the language. Sometimes I wished it weren’t translated, though, so I could revel in knowing that ‘spinnst du’ means ‘are you crazy?’ I’m sure, however, that the average English reader doesn’t mind the translations.
3. The Words
Zusak teetered on overworking his language but I forgave him because so much of he wrote amazed me. Death is especially fascinated with colors and the sky. Zusak compares skies to chocolate and describes a kid’s soccer game with poetry that melds into prose.
4. The Foster Parents
I once was a foster mother. It thrilled me to see foster parents handled as loving humans rather than as the ogres of most stories and flashy news articles.
5. The Way Zusak Handled Tragedy
I don’t go in for tragedy. I am pulled to feel good books even when the author has to strain to give me a good ending. I nearly quit TBK in the beginning because Zusak smashed multiple bad things into the beginning. Liesel’s brother dies and her mother leaves her with foster parents in the first few pages. A librarian encouraged me to push on (in another life I will be a heroic librarian, too). I am glad I did because I soon fell in love with the other people just as Liesel did. I can even forgive Zusak for the necessary tragedy at the very end because the story in the middle will stay with me in marvelous ways.
Here’s a fan made trailer that captures much of the book’s essence in case you are interested in a snazzy synopsis: