The Book Thief – Prologue – A Mountain Range Of Rubble – Death And Chocolate

 A Mountain Range Of Rubble

In which our narrator introduces: himself – the colours – and the book thief. So we have a narrator and shortly we will find out who this narrator is. And we will soon find out who our book thief is and why they have that name, though the blurb, I am fairly certain, has already told us the answers.

Death And Chocolate (I have to say that I’m sure this is the first of many great and intriguing ‘chapter’ names)

“First the colours.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.”

I think it is an interesting way to start the story, I wonder if Zusak thought of the beginning first or he developed the story and then eventually figured out what should be at the beginning. It is an interesting couple of sentences. “First the colours.” Well what colours is the narrator talking about? “The the humans.” Suggesting that the narrator is NOT a human, themselves, which raises the question who are they? (I must admit I do know the answer to this question, but you will find out soon enough.) And then we are told that this is usually how they see things, or at least that is how they try to, suggesting that try as they might they sometimes don’t see the colours first. I forgot to mention yesterday that the likelihood of most of my posts containing large amounts of text straight from the book to illustrate how much I love Zusak’s work and how much I think he is a literary god, is extremely high.

Here is a Small Fact

You are going to die. (It is really hard to know where the ‘chapters’ start and finish, so I’m just going to do whatever I can to order this but it probably won’t be all that successful!)

I love the fact that that was so blunt, so matter of fact! “I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic…” I love it! I find it humorous that the narrator is trying to be ‘cheerful’ about this, it may not be all that humorous to anyone else, but if you knew who the narrator is, you might understand. “Nice has nothing to do with me.” Another great sentence! Zusak is seriously a master of imagery, metaphors, similes, alliteration, EVERYTHING, he has some of the best sentences and one liners in history!

Reaction to the Aforementioned Fact (Zusak has a great vocabulary, I quite like the word ‘aforementioned’, and yes I am quite strange!)

Does this worry you?

I urge you – don’t be afraid.

I’m nothing if not fair.

I actually don’t know if these sentences are part of like the chapter heading or what but I’m going to include them anyway, cause they seem to be great things to talk about. So, “Does this worry you?” Does death worry me? No not really, I think everyone knows that we are going to die, but what is the use fretting about it and living your life as if you were going die, so we should just be careful. In the same way if you think that you could die at any moment, so you should get the most out of life, that is probably a good thing. “I’m nothing if not fair.” Now this is going to be spoilerish. Because it depends if people who have never read this would click by now (most people will shortly) who the narrator is so I don’t want to be too open about it and possible spoil your own realization. Though it is quite possible that me alerting you to this sentence will make you figure it out, nevertheless the narrator is (I warn you, if you want to figure it out on your own, you only have to read on in the story for a short period of time so read that FIRST!!) Death and I think it is one of the best ideas for a narrator EVER, I mean I haven’t read about any other books where Death is the narrator, sure Death is frequently personified (The Grim Reaper and whatnot) but rarely is it given so much depth and detail as I’m sure we will find out shortly (to reveal the narrator and my thoughts on this choice simply highlight the blank looking spot!)

I love the style that Zusak uses and the way in which we are reading the story, it is like we are speaking to the narrator, or at least they are speaking to us. “Where are my manners?” I know this has become somewhat cliqued in recent times and I have heard this a lot, but I don’t know if I can say Zusak was the first back in 2005 when this was published, but nevertheless I quite enjoy the use of it. “I could introduce myself properly, but it’s not really necessary.” I LOVE this, why? Well it means that the answer is not given to us on a platter (sure I did that just before, but you were warned) and then we can all have a moment where we realize who the narrator is, and be like “ah”, “oh” “ooooooohh”! “A colour will be perched on my shoulder.” This is an interesting idea. Is he saying that our ‘souls’ (real or not, is irrelevant) are a specific colour? I hope we learn more about this in the future and I have no idea if this idea is original or not, if you know, let me know! “I rarely find people standing up” I dunno if I’m sadistic or not, or just really odd, but I did laugh at that (did you?) because of who the narrator is and the ‘state’ of which they find humans, but yes, I’m sure they (is it a he, I think of it as a he) rarely find people standing up, how unusual would that be and how in the world would that work?

“You will be caked in your own body.” “a scream will dribble down the air” Oh my, Zusak is amazing, he seriously has the best imagery I have ever encountered, if you know of anyone better, I MUST KNOW (and I’m quite shocked that I haven’t finished page two and I’m over 1000 words, this is going to take a long time, but it is enjoyable for me, the question is, is it enjoyable for you?) “What will the sky be saying?” Can someone kidnap Zusak and make him write more amazing things so I can just read his amazing words more often. IMAGINE listening to these words being read by Morgan Freeman or Stephen Fry or one of those people with mesmerizing voices! Moving on… “I like a chocolate-coloured sky.” Chocolate coloured? When is the sky the colour of chocolate? “Dark, dark chocolate” Well maybe that means it is nighttime or dusk. Can’t you just imagine the colour from his words! “People say it suits me.” Now that I find funny! Who are these people that say this? “A billion or so flavours.” Flavours, I like that idea, each colour is a flavour that you can ‘almost’ taste. No colour is quite the same is it, each angle and each configuration of light changes the colour again! “…and a sky to slowly suck on.” I hope everyone is enjoying this as much as I am!I don’t know whether I should go on because one page literally took 800 words of my rambling. I think that is almost more than what was on that page, but I will go on!

A Small Theory

People observe the colours of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment, A single hour can consist of thousands of different colours. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.

That is so true, we always love to go and see the sunset or the sunrise, well there are a plethora of colours to see at any time of the day or night! We just need to take the time to stop and to see them and enjoy them! “Cloud-spat blues” Zusak is TOO GOOD!

“…considering the length of time I’ve been performing this job.” That is a good point! I wonder how long he (it is a he now, it is confirmed) has been doing this job since the beginning of time or what (or should I say when)? Who could replace him, isn’t he a one of a kind, it’s not like there would be too many people who were willing to take his role for a short time, and I’d say none of those would be capable of doing the job (no one but him could). I really have to laugh at the thought of him (still refusing to blatantly say his name) on a beach in the tropics or skiing down a ski slope! So distraction is his holiday, is it anything like saying ‘change is like a holiday’, which I guess being distracted by the world going by and changing, means it would be a holiday if you agree that ‘change is like a holiday’. “I holiday in increments. In colours.” Imagine telling someone in the ‘real’ world that you just went on a holiday, and they were to ask ‘where to?” and you’d reply oh it was to a lovely rich maroon and then I quickly passed by the deep mahogany (or something). I think you’d find yourself faced with a few blank/strange looks!

Zusak even nearly answers our questions, sometimes without us even realising we have asked them, which makes us involved even more! So what is he taking a holiday from exactly? Well he puts it bluntly. “It’s the leftover humans. The survivors.” I wasn’t quite expecting that. I was thinking it would be (this will be spoilery, but if you don’t know now, I dunno when, so you are warned that if you don’t know who he is, read on in the book until you figure it out!) more to do with what he witnesses everyday with the dead bodies and all, but this makes more sense. The people who are still alive are what torment him. Is it more to do with the fact that we make more work for him by killing each other, and that we ruin some of his colours that are plentiful in nature, etc, or just the fact that they are alive. Or maybe it is that he feels sorry for us, because we look so downcast and unhappy.

So now we are finally (though it is only three pages in, so it is not that far, but in terms of my post it is far!) getting on with the story. “…the subject I am telling you about tonight, or today, or whatever the hour and colour.” Once again I love it! “… an expert at being left behind” Ooooh that is powerful. He is saying that this person is experienced with Death, and many people around her have died and yet she still lives on, quite sad. It is apparently a small story about the following things “a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter and quite a lot of thievery” Now if this hasn’t reeled you into the story, what possibly could. Now I don’t want to drag this on any further so the last words in the prologue are “I saw the book thief three times.” Is this saying that three people have died, and this person was around when he came or did he see her in passing, I guess we will find out!

If my posts in the future are anything like this one, this will take a long time, which doesn’t exactly worry me, it just depends whether anyone wants to read this much.


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