Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Book Thief

Book Review

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I had never heard of this book, until I picked up our borrowed Nook. It came preloaded with thirty or forty books. This was one of them.

Here, I need to give my impression of the Nook for a bit.

First, this appears to be a first edition Nook, which means that the entire screen is not a touch screen, like the Color Nook. Only the small screen area at the bottom is touch sensitive. And this is where all of your controls live. It wasn't obvious at first, but after just a bit, maneuvering the controls isn't too hard.

Second, speed is not the reason you would get a Nook. This is by far, not the most speedy electronic device you've ever worked with. I can only hope that newer versions, including the Color Nook, are quicker at responding.

Third, I haven't found any parental controls. I haven't searched high and low yet, but I've already browsed enough of the preloaded books to know that I need parental controls. Especially, when Mr. Nosey Boy comes and looks over my shoulder without notice or warning.

He showed up as I just happened to be reading the beginning of a book with more graphic information than necessary. I won't be finishing that book. And I certainly don't want to keep reading it at all, when one of the kids could pick up the Nook at any moment, open the book and continue reading from where ever I left off. Not good. Not good.

On the up side, the Nook does have a built in dictionary to look up words on the fly. And you can change the font size, which is critical for me, since I happen to be reading my book while on the treadmill. The downside to increasing the font size is, of course, that you get fewer words per screen. This means that you have to push the button to turn the page much more frequently than you would be turning real pages.

Also on the up side, and contrary to fewer number of words per screen, is the overall small size of the device. Even while in its protective case, it sits just below my treadmill fans and doesn't block the air flow, like so many of my large print books.

Again on the up side is that there are no loose pages to flop back and forth. Quite often, I have to weigh down my book pages with one of my hand weights, in order to keep the pages from flopping, interrupting my reading. Or forcing me to crack the spine of the book.

I enjoyed using the Nook on my treadmill. It certainly has its advantages. I can think of a few additions to make it better, but they may have already taken care of those things in the newer versions of the Nook. I might just have to think a bit more about getting one of these.

Now, as for the book... well, I am less a fan of it than the first version Nook.

The Book Thief

This is categorized as a young adult book, but I'm not sure it should be. It is full of curses and foul languange, in multiple languages.

 I would not recommend this for young readers. Teenagers, maybe. Maybe. Depending on their maturity and reading habits. Yet, I can see how some will want their young adults reading this as "exposure" and how the foul language may appeal to some young adults.

I don't agree with those views, but I can see them.

The topic is World War II Germany and a tween girl living amongst the chaos and uncertainty. There  are all kinds of unsavory situations and settings. Maybe I'm old fashioned (when would that have happened?), but I thought, for this age of reader, The Diary of Anne Frank was plenty graphic about World War II, without actually being graphic. Is all this graphic portrayal of war necessary?

I found it unfortunate that the author chose to make the book narrated by Death. This seems ridiculously pompous. Who should presume to know Death enough to make it the narrator, with views and opinions? I dislike this.

It seems to be a common trend in current literature to write the story in choppy bits. Thoughts are disconnected and riddled with holes. I'm not a fan of this. There are other ways to create intrigue. Maybe it could be considered poetic. Maybe. I still don't think it helps the story at all.

I can't recommend this book. Not to adults. Not to young adults. Not to my own teenager. Definitely not to my tween. There are better books to read.

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