Before I get into my thoughts on The Book Thief, let me share a bit about my reading habits. I have several books going at any given time. It’s not uncommon for me to come back to a book three or four times before I finally get into it. It’s also not uncommon for me to decide that it’s just not the right time for me to read a certain book and move it to my “stalled” list.
Sometimes a story never really clicks and I just give up on it. I used to hate giving up on books, but the older I get the more I refuse to give my time to things that aren’t adding value to my life. My TBR pile is huge. Ain’t nobody got time for bad entertainment.
I did not finish The Book Thief.
I know, I know. Everyone loves The Book Thief. So how did it end up on my DNF list?
This review by Goodreads user Sophia. sums it up pretty well. Death narrates the story and insists on calling the main character The Book Thief despite the fact that she really only stole a few books. And he can’t just tell the story, he has to tell you what’s going to happen before it happens. He spoils everything. Normally I don’t care about spoilers. I’ve been known to google the end of an episode of a show while I’m watching it. But I don’t need the narrator to do that for me. Aside from that, none of the characters seemed particularly dynamic. It’s a holocaust book and I didn’t feel anything. I got through about 60% of the audiobook and felt like nothing happened. I kept waiting for the story to start and finally decided I was ready for it to end.
It took me a few tries to get into this book, not because it was bad (it wasn’t), but because that just seems to be a pattern with Gillian Flynn’s work for me. The first Flynn novel I read was Gone Girl, a bestseller that was made into a movie starring Ben Affleck (and Ben Affleck’s penis) shortly after it was published. I gave Gone Girl an unfair two star rating on Goodreads because I hated nearly every character and felt like no one got what they deserved at the end. Two stars because I was angry.
But isn’t that the point? Good stories, good writing makes the reader feel things. Four star feelings. I’ll never reread Gone Girl and I’ll probably never watch the movie, but it left me wanting more of Flynn. I searched the McAllen Public Library‘s audiobook collection and found Sharp Objects.
Sharp Objects is the story of reporter Camille Preaker, a young woman with a troubled past who goes back to her hometown to write about the murders of a couple of kids. As the title and the razor blade on the cover suggest, Camille is a cutter who has spent some time in a psych hospital. Flynn goes into great detail describing the words carved into Camille’s skin and the thoughts running through her mind as they are triggered by events. If you’ve ever struggled with depression and self-harm, you might want to pass on this one. If you find imagery of preteens engaging in adult behavior disturbing, you probably won’t enjoy this book. If you need a happy ending, move along. I’m convinced Gillian Flynn doesn’t do happy endings, and that’s fine by me. But if you like descriptive writing that conjures up disturbing imagery, you’re in for a treat.