It seems that all I ever write now are book reviews. This entry is no different. Truly, I spent most of my time either working in a laboratory, mulling over experimental plans and results from the laboratory, or reading various works of fiction to maintain some small semblance of sanity. Art and alcohol can also work, I know, but I have neither the skill nor the inclination to drown myself in these.
This week has been quite slow with regards to my work, since I am awaiting some items that were ordered to continue. This morning, I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I had heard of this book a few years ago, around the time I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and wanted some other young adult fiction to chew through. I stumbled upon a blog, which recommended this book - one that is not fantasy of epic proportions - there are no demons (in the literal sense), wizards or vampires. There are no Gods or robots or superheroes with superpowers (also in the literal sense). The rave review led me to get the book, but I kept it stored away until I felt the urge to read it - I felt such an urge earlier this week.
This book is told from Death's point of view. For the events that Death was not present for, he narrates a book he has read, The Book Thief written by its namesake. The Book Thief is a young girl, Leisel Meminger, who has developed a passion to read, probably from the humiliation of not knowing how to read at the beginning of the story. She was 9 at the start of the story, and living in Germany in the late 1930s. While making the journey to Himmel Street, events cause her to be haunted by her younger brother and steal her first book.
The rest of the story tells of this girl and her relationships with her parents and friends on Himmel Street during the Hitler regime. She is a strong girl, capable of defending herself, supporting her friends, bonding with her Papa and Mama, and of course, stealing books. There was an accordian, a Jew and soldiers of war. It does not paint a pretty picture, and by the end of the story, it is downright ugly. The writer is not trying to write another Anne Frank, mind you, and Leisel was not in the army nor did she work as a stereotypical nurse. She was only a pre-teen, a reader and a book thief. Her descriptions of people and her surroundings are just as a child sees the world - filled with colours and fuels curiousity. There is no hate. Perhaps my favourite part of the story is the book she was given entitled The Standover Man. I liked the illustrations - yes, there were actual drawings and the words that were painted over are faintly visible. I also liked the input of Deaths opinion carefully placed in the story. For instance, A SMALL BUT NOTEWORTHY NOTE - I’ve seen so many young men over the years who think they’re running at other young men. They are not. They’re running at me.
The narrator also gives us snippets of the future, and he said, "Of course, I’m being rude. I’m spoiling the ending, not only of the entire book, but of this particular piece of it. I have given you two events in advance, because I don’t have much interest in building mystery. Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. It’s the machinations that wheel us there that aggravate, perplex, interest, and astound me." Despite the spoiler, it is hard to stop reading - the anticipation builds.
I am still unsure whether this story has a happy ending, or a happy beginning for that matter. Misery starts it. Hope and joy are in the middle leading up to more misery, and something parading about as resolution is at the very end.