First of all I’d like to mention that I started out listening to this on audio and the narration was excellent. I’d go so far as to say that this is one of the best, if not the best audio narrations I’ve ever listened to. I don’t know about you, but for me a narrator can make or break an audiobook, and in this instance it really added to the experience.
This book charts a few years in the childhood of Liesel Meminger, and those years happen to run throughout the Second World War. At the beginning of the story her mother has to leave her in the care of foster parents as it’s unsafe for Liesel to remain with her. We then follow Liesel as she becomes used to life in her new home on Himmel Street.
Most of the fictionalised accounts I’ve read of the Second World War are from the perspectives of those persecuted, and while certain characters were punished for actions they partook in, this book was from a slightly different perspective. This brought a freshness to the narrative I felt.
I really did enjoy this book. There were so many elements that were well drawn and thought out, for example the story, which was subtle, and not one where the reader was inundated with plot twists. Enough happened to keep me interested, don’t get me wrong, I just mean there wasn’t too much to get my head around. I also liked how books were woven into the story. It was done in such a way as to feel natural and not forced.
One of the best elements of this book was the characters. The chief characters were warm and endearing and I loved getting to know them all. On a bit of a negative note they weren’t fully formed in honesty, and were slightly one dimensional. They didn’t really exhibit the kind of dexterity, or indeed growth, to engage me fully. Another reason I didn’t connect with then completely is that because this was narrated by death, the reader didn’t ever get into the mind of the characters to hear their inner thoughts. We just witnessed their outer character.
This book has been marketed as young adult, and while I can see why that is (the story centres on younger people), I didn't feel like I was reading a book for younger people. I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to read YA unless it tackles a serious issue, so I wanted to let you know it being YA didn't affect my enjoyment at all.
If you decide to pick this up, I’d recommend you get the audio version, and don’t be put off by the fact that death narrates the story. He doesn’t bring the tone of the book down at all. If I’m honest, I kind of liked him! I’ve heard people say it was an unnecessary plot manoeuvre to have him narrate it, but I don’t think so at all.