The narrator of this unforgettable story is Death. Though he should not focus on the lives of humans he passes by while performing his never-ending work, he cannot help but pay attention to Liesel Meminger. She is a young girl living in Germany during World War II. As the story opens, she is being taken by her mother to live with foster parents. Though her new parents are complete strangers to her initially, she soon comes to love them. Hans, her foster father, helps her learn to read, and Liesel discovers deep love for words and books. Since there is a war raging, there is very little money for food, much less to buy books, so Liesel finds a way to aquire the new reading material she desires--she steals it! Sometimes her good friend Rudy is the lookout during these book raids. There are many very serious dangers that Liesel faces other than getting caught stealing. Besides the fact that there is a young Jewish man hidden in her basement, there are bombings that destroy entire city blocks. Will Death have to take the soul of this young girl whom he has taken an interest in?
First of all, let me say that the entire tone of this book caught me completely off guard. Going into it, I knew that Death was the narrator and the story was told during World War II. I was totally expecting it to be dark and depressing from start to finish. However, Death is NOTHING like I expected! On the first page, he says:
I am in all truthfullness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic,
though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no
matter my protestations.I most definitely can be cheerful.
I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that's only the A's.
He is so incredibly observant and uses such vivid imagery in his colorful descriptions. (I have found myself thinking of what color I would use to describe certain people and situations the last few days.) I could write for a long time about what an interesting narrator Death is and how amazing Markus Zuzak's figurative language is, but the writing can speak much better for itself, so I am just going to write a few passages that stood out:
As the book quivered in her lap, the secret sat in her mouth. It
made itself comfortable. It crossed its legs (246).
There is air like plastic, a horizon like setting glue. There are skies manufactured
by people, punctured and leaking, and there are soft, coal-colored clouds, beating
like black hearts (309).
...I am always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their
beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both (491).
A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR
I am haunted by humans (550).
I love reading about people who risked their own lives to help others (even if they are ficional). It is so easy to like Liesel, her kind-hearted parents and her best friend Rudy. However, the entire time I was reading, worry kept creeping into the back of my mind, because why would Death be narrating if everything ended all happy and warm fuzzy? I'm not going to give away anything, but I highly recommend this book. Be prepared to re-read some passages because of the beautiful writing, and know ahead of time that you WILL find yourself emotionally involved.
# of pages: 550
Date completed: April 28, 2008