This is one of those books that I've been meaning to read for years but just haven't gotten around to picking up. I started reading it God knows how long ago, but only got a couple of chapters in and gave up. This isn't because the book was bad - because it really isn't - but my ADD can mean that I really struggle to get into a book, film or TV show if I'm not feeling it and then I don't want to try again as the memory of trying to read/watch it before can trigger the same issues. It's this that has resulted in me not finishing reading Horns even though I first started it a year ago.
However, after seeing the film when it came out in the cinema and having so many people tell me that I have to read it, I decided to finally give it a go after buying it last year. I am so glad I did because it has now become one of my favourite books and i intend to lend it to everyone who hasn't read it - so long as they don't fold the corners of the pages.
Fairly often, death is portrayed as being a frightening figure, but that isn't the case in The Book Thief. He's actually comforting, kind, sometimes funny and very emotional. The language he uses to describe things and how he attributes colours to specific moments in memory is incredibly beautiful and you really get the sense that he has been around for a very long time.
But there's also a certain sense of naivety to Death as a narrator, which I really appreciate. He has seen a lot but he hasn't seen it all and the story of Liesel Meminger gives him a few moments of surprise. This complex voice it absolutely brilliant as it gives you the story from the perspective of the children involved, an adult and a spectator, so there is a lot of feeling even when Death is being quite simple with the language he uses.
The story is brilliant at showing that not everyone followed Hitler willingly and that many people did break the rules, even though they were petrified to do so, because they knew it was the right thing to do. It is all very human and real, which is why I found the book so powerful and sincere. You see a young girl grow up in a scary world where there is a lot of uncertainty, many threats to her happiness and issues that she shouldn't have to deal with.
I also loved how the story highlighted the power and importance of books. As someone who has always found solace in the world of books and whose ultimate happy place is anywhere filled with shelves of them and that has a comfortable seat, this was a great way to view them. For Liesel, books are a constant and they are are like friends. Whether its a book on grave digging rescued from the snow or one with painted pages and a story just for her, there is something magical about them.
I like the fact that with everything else that was going on in her life, there were always books to turn to. It was also great that she realised their power when it came to other people too and there are some lovely moments when she reads to others to help ease their minds that I think are so real.
There are parts in the story when awful things are happening and people just stand by and watch or turn on those that do try and help. Worryingly, these are similar to stories in the news over the past few months and I'm being totally honest when I say they sent shivers down my spine. However, I'm not going to turn a blog about a fantastic book into a political rant. Instead, I'll simply say that history has already shown us what bigoted men given absolute power can do.
If you haven't read The Book Thief, I urge you to go out and get yourself a copy as it is beautifully written, wonderfully intricate and immensely bittersweet. I haven't enjoyed crying my way through chapters this much in a very long time and would happily pick the book up to start again tomorrow. However, I do recommend that you have a box of tissues ready toward the end and that you avoid reading the final few chapters in public if you don't want to sob in front of strangers.