This book was recommended to me several times and I noticed it had been made into a film so I grabbed it and had a read.
To start with I felt the book was a little gimmicky with it being narrated by death, but it grew on me and the personality applied to death was very welcome humour to what could otherwise have been a very depressing story.
In terms of storytelling there was a lot I know teachers of writing would have frowned on and a part of my delight in the book was that so many of the writing ‘rules’ were broken. Plot was spoilt by the narrator on several occasions. We were told almost meaningless facts and stories that appeared to have no point, but it worked.
The characterisation the book was superb. Everything felt a little larger than life but it still worked and it was impressively consistent in it’s almost absurdity. I also loved death’s obsession with colour and it led to some of my favourite quotes from the whole book. ‘It [The light] was all the fabric of the curtains allowed. If you’re optomistic, think of it as bronze.
I found myself very touched by moments in the story, especially as it was told from the very innocent eyes of a child within Nazi Germany. So many of these sorts of stories are told from our point of view – The British – who must face the evil of Hitler and be brave, and while this story held to Hitler being evil and often his most violent supporters, it showed the humanity in the every day Germans. They were people who, just like us, wanted to survive, and had to do what they could and make decisions based on the little information their government allowed them to have.
All in all a pretty amazing look at a tough subject, that made me laugh aloud, mostly at its cleverness, but occasionally at its absurdity.