Oh, I do love this book! I love the visual world Zusak builds with his prose. The images in my mind’s eye were so vivid and clear. No matter where I stopped, as soon as I picked it back up again, I was brought back into his world.
I love Death’s descriptions, how he uses colors and figurative language to portray meaning and describe setting. Those little details give the writing that otherworldly quality that makes the book feel that Death is really a narrator and that this is not just another narrative told from a human perspective. At times the book reminded me of the film Amélie
with Audrey Tautou, particularly those scenes when Amélie’s active imagination is used to portray her feelings at a given moment, for instance when she turns into a puddle of water when her love interest fails to pursue her. Given the subject matter, not all the imagery Death provides is beautiful; his descriptions are often heartrending and horrific. I’m reminded of Death’s last observation, “I am haunted by humans”…Death’s story does effectively convey that sentiment. I can understand why this format and all of the descriptions might be a deterrent for some readers, but for me I think when all of these little elements are considered together as a whole, it becomes an asset.
I also like that Death tells us the end of the book at the onset. It allows the reader to not get caught up in the plot, allowing the reader to actually notice all of those little subtle details that make up the book—how the use of words, imagery and personification develop the themes and how they’re used as character builders. On the whole, it’s well done.
As for the ambiguous ending…hmm. I’m torn. Part of me wishes there was more closure to some of the stories. But the ending we do get is well crafted; Zusak gives you just enough information to make you think one way or the other. You as the reader have the ability to create your own ending. But given the fact that the main protagonist ends up in Australia and considering the times, you’d think that the person would’ve needed to be married to someone in order to secure a sponsor to get passage, whoever that potential spouse may have been. ;)