First the colours. Then the humans. That's usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try.
–Markus Zusak - The Book Thief - c.2005,2007
At the end of the nineteen thirties in Germany a little girl travelled with her mother and brother on the train. The children were being sent to live with foster parents. Their mother could no longer take care of them. But en route the little boy dies. This is the first death in a book narrated by Death.
A book about living in Germany during World War II.
As you can imagine, Death has quite a busy time. But is also a book about a little girl growing up in that atmosphere. About the power of words, and the kindness of some people.It is a book that many people love. And it seemed perfect for me when my book club chose it for a read. It also fits into the fantasy category for my OUaT reading.
But I just didn’t get it.
Yes it was a sad story, and I felt for many of the characters, but I didn’t enjoy the way the story was told. Death itself was too much a distancing character for me to really get into any of the characters heads. It felt as though there was this great story that was just being dangled out of my reach. Death as a narrator felt clumsy to me.
Some of the writing in the book is wonderfully descriptive and beautiful. But what use is that if I feel no connection to the people. People, for me, are the heart of a good read. And in this I just couldn’t get near them.