Friday, May 15, 2009

The Book Thief

By far my favorite book this year. The narrator, Death, is among the most fascinating I've ever read. He is grimly witty, reluctantly compassionate, and, in his own words, "haunted by humans." He marvels that "the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant."

It's a book about words, their power to create and destroy, and humans, their stunning cruelty and kindness. But it weaves together so many other themes and motifs that I had to list them in the front pages so I wouldn't forget them all. Zusak writes with language so potent I found myself marking passages on nearly all of its 550 pages. Add to that endearingly human characters--sometimes cruel, but so often breath-takingly kind--and a page-turning plot, and you've got a book you really shouldn't miss.