Monday, 24 September 2012

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

Summary: It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
A few facts first:

  • Everyone I have seen mention this book, has said it's amazing. All the reviews are filled with gushing and wow's and just love for the book.

  • It took me more than a year to get through this book (started it about three different times, kept putting it down and even when I got more than halfway into it, I still kept putting it down for weeks or months at a time).

  • And the most important fact: Even though it took me forever to read, I agree with all those gushing reviews.

It's weird that it took me so long to read and yet I still love it. Honestly, at times, when reading, it did drag - it felt like the story moved at a snails pace and the way the story was written was so strange that it didn't feel like one of those, "Oh my god, I can't put this down, I need to know what happens next." kind of books, it was really easy to put down and not pick up again for ages.

I'm not sure if that's something other people think about the book too, or if I'm in the minority. I think it might just be something about Markus Zusaks writing style that doesn't hook me, because so far, I have exactly the same problem with his other book, I Am the Messenger.

So why do I think the book is brilliant even in spite of that?

1. Well, the story is really original. Seriously, I haven't ever read another book like it and I doubt I ever will (everything from the weird way the plot was arranged to the narrator - I loved the narration right from the start).

2. Even when it felt like the plot was dragging, I still adored the writing. Seriously, Markus Zusak can write - he's one of those writers that can do things with words that leaves you confused and in awe of how he can have access to the same language that you do and yet he can do something with it in a way that most people can't.

3. The characters. I loved them. They felt more real than the characters in probably most of the books that I read. Again, Markus seems to have a talent for that - making his characters realistic and loveably flawed in a way not every writer can achieve.

4. The subject matter. Heartbreaking. Awful. Humanity at its absolute worst, and a little bit at its best. And told through the eyes of Death - and he really had me convinced that it was Death who was narrating, he never seemed too human or too... other. He made Death seem impartial, non-judgemental, not cruel or cold or heartless - without making him seem too human.

5. I cared. If an author can make me care, that's half the battle. And I loved these characters, I empathised and sympathised with them and I cried nearer the end and felt like my heart was a little bit broken when I finished the last page.

I dunno... there's probably other reasons, but those are enough. This review has been a bit weird and all over the place, but it was a weird book, so I guess a weird review is fitting. What matters most: the book was excellent and I'm totally with all those other people that loved it.


p.s. the UK cover? One of my favourite book covers, ever.


  1. I haven't heard a single person say they didn't like this book. I'm glad to see it took you a while to get through though, usually when books are so overhyped like this I have a hard time picking them up. I'll have to do it soon though. Thanks for a great review!


  2. This was my favorite book! I loved having death as the narrarator and the ending was shocking. It was great!



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