Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 3791
Black and White and Read All Over
(Updated: December 28, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
What is there to like?
• It’s a story about the importance of telling and reading stories. Liesel and Max Vandenburg use reading to get themselves through their darker days, Liesel and her foster father read together, Liesel and the mayor’s wife come together through a mutual love of books, Liesel reads to the townspeople as they huddle together during the bomb raids. Perhaps especially important in stories about war and The Holocaust—events which, more than so many other things, call for two of storytelling's most important functions: memory and empathy.
• Rudy Steiner, Rudy Steiner, Rudy Steiner.
Liesel’s best friend and partner in troublemaking, brave boy, full of light. The tragedy of a young boy’s death in war is something easily acknowledged, but the fact of it—robbing him, Liesel, the world of his bright, bright future—wouldn’t hurt so deeply if Rudy weren’t someone to love so completely. Heartbreaking.
• Hans Hubermann, Liesel’s foster father: a kind man who keeps his promises and doesn’t know what to do in the face of the tidal wave of Nazi Germany and the war. Again, heartbreaking as a symbol of the real-life men and women of Germany in the 1930s/40s.
• Not everybody in the town is a nice person, in the normal way that not everyone is nice. This is important to show—war doesn’t care how nice people are.
• Some standout poetic sentences and imaginative descriptions throughout.
• The narration by Death offers the opportunity for some interesting reflections and poignant moments of death in wartime and in peace.

What's not to like?
• Extremely irritating stylistic choice of what other reviewers have called interjections. I might call them interruptions. Whatever they are, they feel extremely gimmicky—except it’s not clear what this gimmick is supposed to accomplish, which makes it all the more puzzling and intrusive.
• It is difficult to care, particularly, about Liesel—this must be the main problem with the book. The narrative is somewhat patchwork, containing many vignettes that occur either during or prior to Liesel’s own timeline, many of which are beautiful or sad or true-seeming. However, Liesel feels like little more than a catalyst for all the interesting things that happen all around her. As the titular character, the book thief should be the one the readers are most invested in, but it seems impossible to get a sense of who she really is—which is thrown into even sharper relief by the captivating personalities of Rudy Steiner, Hans Hubermann, and other townspeople. As a result, the book is missing a heart, which made it difficult for me to love it.

What made me pick it up?
The title; seemingly universal praise; it was continuously on the bestseller list since long before I even paid any attention to bestseller lists.

Other books to try:
The Berlin Boxing Club
Number the Stars
Code Name Verity
Inkheart

Overall recommendation: Recommended.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Movies, mansions, and murder in the Golden Age of Hollywood!...
Kamala and Maya's Big Idea
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Meena Harris debuts with an empowering picture book about two...
Harvey Holds His Own (The Harvey Stories, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The West Highland Terrier that brought Harvey Comes Home to...
Everything I Thought I Knew
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
A teenage girl wonders if she’s inherited more than just...
The Morning Flower (The Omte Origins, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking returns to...
The Hunt
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Death marked her from her very first breath. Being...
Swallowed by a Secret
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
One dead father. One lying mother. ...
Circus of the Dead Book One
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
There are many ways to die at the Circus...
Roaring
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Colt Clemmons is an agent in a specialized division...
Court of Lions
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Court of Lions is the long-awaited second and final...
More Than Just a Pretty Face
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han, a...
The Adventurers Guild: Night of Dangers
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
After the events at Llethanyl, city of the elves, Zed...
And Then I Turned into a Mermaid (And Then I Turned into a Mermaid, #1)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Emily Windsnap and Maybe A Mermaid, And...
After the Worst Thing Happens
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Left reeling after her thoughtless mistake causes a terrible accident,...
Hirana's War: Book Two in the Eloia Born Series
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Praise for Eloia Born “Loved it! A well-written narrative...
Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey of His Life
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
"If you like, I’ll tell you the story of a...

Latest Member Reviews

Destined (House of Night #9)
 
3.0
"This series is like a horrific car crash: you know you should just move on, but you can't help but..."
Destined (House of Night #9)
 
3.3
"It was definitely better than Awakened, but still not at the standard the first few in the series set. It's..."