The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Liesel Memminger is only a child when she first meets death, but it will not be the first time 

The Book Thief contains a few things you need to know about. A young girl, an old couple, a Jewish fist fighter, Hitler and Death. Sounds simple, right? After finding herself in a new town with new foster parents, a doting foster father and a sharp tongued foster mother. But Liesel Memminger is haunted,  haunted by the ghost of her younger brother whom she watched die. Another thing you should know she is a thief, but the novel is about more than that.

The novel is a about a young girl that we get to watch grow and about a country that will never be the same after war. As Liesel, Hanns and Rosa hide a young Jewish man they know they are risking their lives but what comes out of it is so much more. The problem with novels as good as this is that you don’t want to ruin any part of it because you love it so much. I will say though the novel is a long one but in a nice way. It’s the kind of book that you can take a break from but as soon as you turn another page you fall straight back into the story.

Another character I have to mention, because I know you will fall in love with him is Lisle’s neighbour Rudy. A sweet boy who idolises black athlete Jesse Owens in the middle of Nazi Germany. As you can assume this does not work in his favour. The relationship between him and Liesel is one of my favourite parts of the novel though, without him I doubt the Bbok Thief would have become who she was.

Although it’s a questionable concept, Death makes and incredible narrator and he was one of the best characters. Who would have thought death could be so kind, caring and thoughtful. Oh and lets not forget funny, there is great humour in the book even if it seems sad. I laughed more than I ever wanted to cry and it wasn’t just little laughs that would escape me, it was loud laughter which is rare.

At times the book made my heart hurt. I could see the scenes playing out in my head, I wanted to look away but I couldn’t. I wanted to reach out but I wasn’t really there. What Zusak has done with his magical description should not be taken lightly. I have not read novel like this that is so vivid in a very long time. I wanted to laugh, I wanted to cry and I wanted to make sure nothing like this could ever happen again. It’s incredible that even though this is fiction, it feels as if it could be real and that is the magic of a good story teller, they made you believe the book is real.This book made me cry, and I’m grateful. It is a stunning piece of literature that I want to read again and again.

I can’t give this book anything less than five stars *****, something I don’t give lightly. I remember not reading this book years ago when I had the chance and I wish someone had shaken me! Zusak is an incredible writer, so much so that if he never wrote again this book would be enough. If you haven’t read it, you should need to, it is beautiful.

 

Review by Chloe Metzger

Advertisements

Daddy’s Little Princess – Cathy Glass

When 7 year old Beth was placed in Cathy Glass’ care the situation was considered normal. A young girl with nowhere to stay after he father is taken ill is almost text book in the life of a foster carer and despite Beth understandingly being upset to be away from her father there is nothing out of the ordinary. While Beth adjusts to family life and Cathy deals with some struggles of her own things take a drastic turn. Cathy soon realises that little Beth has not be having the normal life of a little girl. As Beth’s behaviour begins to show signs of trouble from home, Cathy is faced with concerns from Beth’s school teacher as well as her own feelings that something isn’t right. From that point on Cathy has to fight to make herself heard and hopefully save Beth.

In this book Cathy broaches the subject of Emotional Incest, something which you probably haven’t heard of before. Let me point out there is nothing sexual in this, although it is known to develop into a sexual relationship unfortunately. As with other novels Cathy has been able to present this in a non judgemental way, something she is incredibly good at. It also gives a lot of information, the information she is given as time goes on in regards to the situation. I find it incredibly sad and go as far as saying that if people weren’t as judgemental maybe Beth’s  father may not have felt the need to hide them both away as a single father. That said, I did at times get shivers down my spine because ultimately it is a form of abuse even if it isn’t physical.

I’m Daddy’s Little Princess

Trouble also comes in the form of Beth’s relationship with her fathers girlfriend, who also shares her concerns with Cathy about the way Beth and her father relate to each other. Despite Beth’s obvious jealousy Marianne really does try which is nice, even in the face of such allegations she does not walk away and instead if a support figure.What frustrated me throughout was that he social worker didn’t seem to want to listen to Cathy’s concerns nor did she regard Marianne’s observations or Beth’s school teacher either. I wanted to scream at them listen! listen to her! It was so frustrating to watch it drag on and Cathy appearing to blame herself for not taking things seriously even though at this time I believe foster carers received little or no training.

One of my favourite things about Cathy’s novels is that she lets us know as much as she can about how the child is getting on. It gives the reader peace of mind about these poor children who go through so much, it’s impossible not to care about these children, you become attached to them and I don’t know how Cathy does it time and time again. She’s selfless and so are her family even when facing something that cause catastrophic results. Even in this novel when the children are so small themselves and having their own troubles they still find time to play with the new children and make them feel included and special.

I want to give Daddy’s Little Princess four stars ****. Once again Cathy has tackled an incredibly sensitive subject and given thousands the chance to see a glimmer of understanding and I hope that this will invoke change. Although at times it is difficult to read at the same time it can be a pleasure to see Beth grow into the little girl that she is supposed to be. It’s also important that Cathy’s reactions also match the readers, it makes her more human, especially as she so often shares things she felt she had done wrong or could have changed. As with her previous book Will you love me? we have another best seller in front of us and she rightfully deserves it.

 

Review by Chloe Metzger

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

 

Catching Fire Promotional Poster - tribute-arena Photo

 

 As mentioned in my review of The Hunger Games I struggled to understand what could happen in a second book, what there was from the first novel that could continue the series on. I understood that something new had happened and two victors could spell trouble but I didn’t get an overwhelming sense of danger or intrigue from the end of the first novel. In all honesty the only part which I could see continuing was the are they, aren’t they relationship between Katniss and Peeta, which within the first few pages does.

As with The Hunger Games the majority of the novel is taken up this the lead up to the main event, which is frustratingly short. Admittedly this time is is a lot darker than before. There has been a dramatic change in District 12 and Katniss is once again in the middle of a threat of death, however this time it follows her. While the love triangle saga continues to develop Katniss and Peeta embark on their victory tour of the other districts. As with the entire idea of their homecoming the victory tour is basically skipped over, there is little description or mention of the vast number of districts and who they are, although the most important districts in relation to later in the novel are given a little more time, although not much.

The novel switches between going at quite a slow steady pace to snatches of action and then back to a lul. I felt quite that the whole love triangle thing kind of overtook important parts of the novel. I wanted to go back to the gritty Katniss that we knew before. I couldn’t understand how Katniss, who had managed not to cry at all in the first book became a mess at the slightest thing. Of course I understood certain elements where anyone would feel overwhelmed but it was a far cry from the Katniss we knew!

 

***CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS***

I must say, however, the imagery and ideas for the arena in this book are brilliant and much more like what I would have expected in the last book. Frankly, it’s horrible, it is what our nightmares are made of and this is the part where I started to get hooked again. Yes putting Katniss back into the games was repetitive and at first I didn’t really understand it but once it got into it I was amazed that Collins was able to pull it off again! I was racing through the pages again at this point so excited and nervous for the characters. It was definitely a step up from the first games in the sense that more actually happens, rather than Katniss just sleeping in trees a lot!

***SPOILERS OVER***

I have to admit the ending for this part of the trilogy was a lot stronger. There were more mysteries and it was more of a sense that I had to know why rather than wanting to. Instead of a simple mystery this really grabs the reader in a way they wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Overall I give this four stars ****, just as I did The Hunger Games although for different reasons. You can see Collins’ growth as writing in the novel with much more detail, although I still couldn’t shake that feeling of being rushed through certain parts. Overall though the novel is worth reading and is a must to prepare you for the third instalment.

 

Review by Chloe Metzger