Review – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Hi,

Today I’m going to review Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief for you.

You’ll notice a different structure on this and some of my upcoming reviews as I’m practicing for an exam that includes writing reviews and I’ll just stick to the structure that is expected at university. If you like it better than my usual review structure, you can tell me that. If you like the other structure better, you can also tell me. I’m planning on switching back after the exam, but if you are all in favor of this new structure, I can also stick to it.

The Book Thief
Image provided by Transworld¹

The Book Thief is a 2005 novel by Australian writer Markus Zusak. The edition I own is a paperback edition published in 2007 by Black Swan, a division of Transworld Publishers.

The Book Thief is about nine-year-old Liesel Meminger who is sent to live with the Hubermanns, a foster family living in a fictional town called Molching. She soon warms up to her foster-father Hans and her new best friend Rudy. Her foster-mother Rosa takes some getting used to. Liesel settles in, learns to read and takes up stealing books. One day, a young man enters the Hubermanns’ kitchen. His name is Max and he is a Jew hiding from the Nazis.

Zusak’s visual description of the setting and his vivid writing style make you believe you were a character in his novel. Walking the town of Molching with its little stores and shabby houses feels very real. Just like Liesel holding a burning book to her chest. Markus Zusak knows how to show the reader what he imagines.

The Book Thief features mainly well-crafted characters. Liesel is depicted realistically, as she turns from the shy and hesitant young girl to a brave rascal with a big heart. Like every child, she doesn’t always think about the consequences of her actions. I enjoyed the well-rounded characterization of Liesel’s loving foster-father Hans and I wish Rosa would have gotten similar treatment. As Rosa is a very reserved person, it could also be that Markus Zusak didn’t want us to know too much about Rosa. She should be as much a mystery to us as she is to Liesel. The Book Thief is narrated by Death and Markus Zusak couldn’t have chosen a better narrator. Death has a good sense of humor and keeps you glued to the pages.

So what is the overall reading experience? While The Book Thief instantly sucks you in, it slows down in the middle mainly because day-to-day events are recounted and nothing happens that stays in your mind. I couldn’t find a real climax throughout the book. Not even the scene near the end has that much impact. The ending itself, however, is satisfying. What I particularly liked was that the book features many Bavarian words and expressions which worked very well and added to the sarcastic tone the narrator created. As a person living near Bavaria, I can tell you that Markus Zusak did his research. What did not work were the printed illustrated pages of a book within this edition of the novel. They were very hard to read and quickly became annoying. The Book Thief is a solid novel that is suitable for very young readers as it leaves out many of the horrors of the time. For adults and young adults who know that millions of people died a cruel death during the Nazi regime, the book might turn out be a bit too soft.

3beans

¹http://www.transworldbooks.co.uk/editions/the-book-thief/9780552773898

Enhanced by Zemanta

Review – Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Hi,

This is a book review, BUT I’m pretty exited about today’s release of the movie Winter’s Tale! If you haven’t heard about it, here’s the trailer:

When I first saw the trailer, I remembered the book the movie is based on, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. I had come across it a few months before, but I decided not to read it because the reviews were sharply divided. For me it looked like one half was raving about the book being brilliant, while the other half was complaining about it being boring. I was intrigued by the synopsis but I didn’t want to risk reading a 700-page book that would bore me. But then came the trailer and I was fascinated. I mean, they wouldn’t make a movie out of a boring novel, right? There had to be something about the book that made it worth reading. So I read it. And here comes a review that was very hard to write.

Synopsis:

New York City is eagerly awaiting the 20th century when a burglar is saved by a white horse. This incident will change his life forever. About a hundred years later a young, formerly very rich, man makes his way east across the country to find out more about the mysterious golden salver his father left him. He intends to board a ship to Europe, but something seems to hold him in New York City. The city has changed with the years, but some things are still the same. Things like the cloud wall.

My Thoughts:

Winter’s Tale is a very complex novel. It’s main focus lies on New York City, but not the New York City we know. Not even New York City as it was around 1900, which is the time the first part of the novel is set in. Mark Helprin created his own version of this famous North American city we all know. If it doesn’t feel weird for you in Part I of the book, wait until you reach Part II. I was really confused! I had no idea what time I was in. Was that still the past (because the language and other details suggested that)? No it wasn’t, but where was I? If you try to find that out with the help of clues you usually pick up on the way, you’re lost. Well I was. I just started to accept it. This world is different even though it shares lots of similarities with ours.

Peter Lake for example. He looks human. He is human. If he would have had a better past, he might have become a normal, working-class citizen of New York. Things turned out a little different though and he starts to do things you can’t comprehend. You could call Peter Lake a main character, but I could be biased by the movie trailer. I’ve thought about it. There are so many characters in this novel. Every one of them is introduced in more than just two pages. At some point it got quite confusing to remember who was who. Many of these characters (e.g. Hardesty & Virginia) are very important and take up large parts of the novel. I can’t say if there really is a main character. What do you think?

As you can see, Winter’s Tale is a rather confusing adventure, but there is one thing that makes it worthwhile: the language! Okay, two. There’s also Athansor, the flying horse. If I had the time, and I hope I’ll have it someday, I would sit down and just read passages of the book for sheer pleasure. Mark Helprin can turn words into magic. Though I have to be honest with you. I did not fully understand Winter’s Tale, but as I’ve seen on the internet, there are many who didn’t, even after rereading it for the xth time. Do I think you should read it? Yes, if you have time on your hands. If you are terribly busy right now, read something light and get back to Winter’s Tale when you feel relaxed.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

I’m wondering how they made such a complex book into a movie. I’m looking forward to Akiva Goldsman’s interpretation!

Movie – Everybody’s Fine

“Tell me the good news and spare me the bad”

Everybody’s fine. Seriously? Are Frank Goode’s four children, now grown-ups and settled all across the US, truly as fine as they claim to be? When they all cancelled on him for a family reunion, Frank decides to surprise them, turning up at their homes unexpectedly. What starts as a heart-warming dramatic comedy, turns out to be a hectic road movie, taking Frank on trains and Greyhound buses from New York to Chicago, Denver and Las Vegas.

Written and directed by Kirk Jones, Everybody’s Fine is an entertaining remake of Giuseppe Tornatore’s Stanno Tutti Bene, starring Robert De Niro as Frank Goode who tries to live the American Dream and expects his children to work hard to achieve their goals. Since his children thought they did not live up to their father’s expectations, they decide to pretend to be someone they are not to make him proud.

His successful daughter Amy (Kate Beckinsale) pretends to be in a happy relationship, Robert (Sam Rockwell) turns out to be a percussionist instead of a world-class conductor, Rosie (Drew Barrymore) is not the supposed dancer and star of Vegas, and not until the end the audience gets to see artist David (Austin Lysy) who got into serious troubles in Mexico. But since our protagonist is a brilliant observer, and it doesn’t take him long to figure out the truth and what’s really going on.

Filled with numerous clichés, it is a touching and intelligently acted family drama, created about themes such as love, the importance of family and doing what makes you happy instead of living someone else’s dream. The movie is refreshingly open, even though we could have expected more sensitiveness from the actors. Nevertheless, Robert De Niro and his supporting cast did a great job and contributed to making Everybody’s Fine just fine.

Released by Miramax Films in 2009.

Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

“Everybody’s Fine” is rated PG-13.

bohnen3s

Trailer – Saving Mr. Banks

I’ve just encountered this wonderful trailer of Saving Mr. Banks and I want to share with you. It really looks magical.

Did you see? They even go to Disneyland 🙂 I love Disneyland! We’ve been there last September and I haven’t stopped missing it since then.

I checked the release dates for Saving Mr. Banks on IMDB. It is released between December 2013 and February 2014 depending on where you live. Just click the link.

For me, this movie is a “must see”, what about you?

Movie – Monsters University – The Theory of Flight

Today, I’d like to show you two movie trailers. One new, one old. One for the fun-loving and one for the thinkers. Or if you like both (like me), go for it and enjoy both of them!

The first one is an animated movie. It’s Monsters University by Disney Pixar. I really enjoyed this movie. It has everything a good Disney Pixar movie needs. But also nothing particularly special.

bohnen4s

The second movie is The Theory of Flight (1998) and it stars Helena Bonham Carter and Kenneth Branagh. This movie was truly heartbreaking and Ms. Bonham Carter’s performance was great. Still, the movie sometimes felt a little lengthy.

You can find a trailer here: http://www.artistdirect.com/video/the-theory-of-flight/58058 (Embedding a decent quality video didn’t work out this time. Sorry folks)

bohnen4s

Trailer – Frozen

Hi,

Right now, I have to study a lot. I’ve got three exams coming up. But I’m also reading, so you’ll get some new reviews soon.

Here’s the first trailer of Disney’s Frozen. I’m waiting for this movie to come out and I hope it will be great. I already like the trailer, although it doesn’t tell anything about the story.

Movie – The Great Gatsby

Have you read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby? I’ve read it a few years ago and I really enjoyed it. It is a smooth read and I would really recommend it to those who are scared of reading classics because they think that classics are long and boring. The Great Gatsby is anything but long and boring 🙂

But now on to the movie.

When I first saw this trailer, I was excited. This excitement turned into horror, when I found out that the music in the movie would be modern music instead of 20s music. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I have to say that the music was okay. It wasn’t as disturbing as I’d expected it to be and it was quite pleasant sometimes. There was something else that bothered me: The computer animation.

At some points in the film, the computer animation becomes obvious. Waaaay too obvious. I haven’t seen the movie in 3D, so I have no idea if it’s the same for people who have seen it in 3D. But the water for example, or the star-filled sky, they were really ugly to look at. This wouldn’t be a problem, if the whole movie was a computer animated Disney movie but it wasn’t. I don’t know why the movie’s creator did this.

Other than that, I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby. Great costumes (!!), beautiful houses and, of course, the actors 🙂 Tobey Maguire did a wonderful job. Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton and Carey Mulligan were also very good. And Mr. DiCaprio is a great Gatsby. Don’t you think?

bohnen3s