Publisher: Transworld Digital (4 September 2008)
Print Length: 560 pages
The book is written in a somewhat quirky style, but it is still pleasant read. The author certainly knows how to let words flow easily across the page.
One thing I immediately noticed was that the narrator, Death, often told you an outline of what was going to happen ahead of the events in the actual storyline. I guess this technique was designed to intrigue the reader so that they want to read on in order to discover the details. However, I found this habit, of forward telling, a tad frustrating. To be teased with outline details and then forced to wait a number of pages before all is divulged became annoying at times.
Another thing that prompted disappoint was the fact that I never engaged with the main character, Liesel, a girl on the cusp of her teenage years. Because of this, I often viewed the events that shaped Liesel's life, the upheaval of living in war-torn Germany and the ever-present menace of Nazi evil, as a detached onlooker. Only toward the final 5% of the novel did I begin to feel any emotional reaction to the story.
On a positive note, Markus Zusak is a master when it comes to description. Not that this book is encumbered with irrelevant detailed descriptions. On the contrary, the author has the knack of composing simple, short phrases that conjure up detailed images with his choice of out-of-context wording
Defying accepted plot formulation, the novel ends on a succession of downbeat events. Perhaps the author's intention was to slam home the brutality of war. If so, he succeeded, and still managed to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. With this trick, Markus Zusak amply demonstrated that he is a master of his craft.
This is a book that I'll definitely be re-reading at some time in the future.