Tag Archives: UC Irvine

books, reading, and blogging

There was a time when I considered myself a blogger. I would occasionally write a review of the book I had just read. It was satisfying in its own simple way. Then I entered into a MA in Literature program at UC Irvine. While I didn’t stop reading for the program (I was reading 30 books+ each summer) I did experience a little bit of readers fatigue once summer ended.

And now that I only have the thesis left I’m restraining myself so that I will focus on getting the paper done, instead of attacking the growing pile of books waiting for me (I am desperate to get back to Westeros). Despite my best reasons for not reading many books right now, I have to mention the incredible book I recently finished. Here is my review:

Death is a surprisingly good narrator. He is wry, sardonic, and, well, even likeable. Author Markus Zusak not only crafts an engaging plot, but he expertly makes a usually terrifying subject – death- a thoughtful narrator. And of course, given the subject of war, Death is an accomplished participant. The Book Thief is well deserving of its bestseller status, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Now, I’m not really one for World War II books. I wonder how it is possible that that genre hasn’t been exhausted yet. Had I known that The Book Thief was a World War II book, I probably would have passed on it; and in so doing, I would have passed on an extraordinary story.

Fortunately for me, I’m too lazy to bother reading the summary found on the back covers of books, so I had no idea what I was getting when I picked it up.

Zusak’s story is about a young girl who is given up for adoption after her baby brother dies. The first time that Death encounters the young girl, Liesel, is when he picks up the soul of her baby brother. During his quick visit, he notices something remarkable about Liesel and he has the fortune (or misfortune as it may be) to see her time and time again. And as Death follows her life, he graciously tells us all about her.

Liesel is a German girl growing up in Nazi Germany. She is a sweet character and readers will easily fall in love with her. This was a bit shocking to me, because I’ve never read a sympathetic story about Germans during World War II. I did appreciate this though, because not all Germans hated Jews. Not all Germans wanted to kill Jews. In fact, some Germans risked their own lives and families to protect Jews. Liesel’s family did. Liesel’s adopted mother and father are such great characters. Her father is as loving and sweet as Liesel, and her mother is harsh on the outside but a total softy inside.

While much of this story is simply about Liesel and her friends being kids, playing soccer, fighting with each other, and competing to be the best, their innocent lives cannon remain untouched by war. Slowly, the war creeps into their everyday lives and eventually disrupts everything they know.

As I’ve already said, I loved this story, and my efforts here can’t do it justice. You really do need to read this story. And I’d recommend you read it soon. The movie version is coming out soon, and while it looks really good, we all know that books are better.

20131128-150210.jpg My only concern with the movie is that the wonderful narrative voice will be sacrificed for traditional movie storytelling.