This book started out slow, at least for me. I wasn’t certain I was going to like the style of the book. I was unsure about a story being narrated by death, and I didn’t like Death’s voice. I also didn’t like that definitions and facts kept interrupting prose. The book, as far as I was concerned, didn’t make the best first impression.
But, first impressions can be misleading and it didn’t take long for me to fall under Markus Zusak’s spell.
His characters became so real that I truly loved them. Each character had their flaws as well as their strengths. And by the end of the book the characters’ flaws made their goodness even more poignant.
Zusak managed to bring me to tears at multiple points through out the story. But don’t think the story had only sadness. Some of those tears were grateful tears or tears of joy (blame my daughter for the inappropriate reactions, my hormones are still a little wacky). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is Zusak highlights the joy and humor that was found in a generally bleak and devastating time.
And the theme of books and words and their power over individuals was seamlessly woven into the story. At first, the theme doesn’t even seem (no pun intended) to be there, but as the story developed I began to examine the power of words not just those of this story, or of that particular time period. For example, Monday was Martin Luther King day, a man whose words of peace and equality are famous. And yesterday was the internet blackout in protest of censorship, a protest against confining words and ideas (and yes, also images, but work with me).
Truly the argument that the pen is mightier than the sword has many examples. This book is one of those examples. A beautiful, poignant example.