Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Posted October 15, 2011 by Melissa in Book Review | 14 Comments

The Book Thief

Title:  The Book Thief
Author:  Markus Zusak
Reading level: YA/Adult
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Size: Hard Cover, 560 pages
Release Date:  March 2006 
Publisher: Knopf Books 
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Bought

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

Summary (from GoodReads):

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. 

Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can’t resist- books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever they are to be found.

With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel 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.

Death’s Quotes:

It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away.

You want to know what I truly look like? I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.

His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do – the best ones. The ones who rise up and say “I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.” Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.

Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear.

I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.

I am haunted by humans.

My Thoughts:

I almost don’t know where to begin with this one.  When I picked up the book, I knew nothing about it or the setting.  It’s about a girl whose father teaches her to read…or so I thought.  I was so wrong.

Death narrates this tale of a young girl’s life in Nazi Germany with both a sense of humor and surprisingly much compassion as well.  And it is no easy tale to tell. There is unspeakable cruelty alongside unimaginable beauty.  We see the worst and best that humanity has to offer…sometimes in unexpected places…and we are reminded of just who we are and what we are capable of…the good and the bad.

The authors writing took a little getting used to but the imagery in his text is amazing.  Each scene evoking a full range of the senses.  And despite the foreshadowing (I knew what to expect) I still found myself sobbing through the last few pages.

Although marketed as Young Adult…I have no reservations about recommending this to Adults as well.  In short…Read this book.

My Rating:

I really liked this book

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14 responses to “Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  1. I’ve had this book at the top of my To Read list for a while now but have been hesitant to actually go ahead and read it because it sounds so grim. Though I’ve heard it’s quite amazing so I really should just go ahead and read it.

  2. Wow you’re review is incredible.

    “We see the worst and best that humanity has to offer…sometimes in unexpected places…and we are reminded of just who we are and what we are capable of…the good and the bad.”

    You’re review should be on the back of the book! I’m so tempted to go out and buy this book right now. Anything that can invoke such strong emotion is what writing is all about.

    Kristan @ Lost Amongst the Shelves

  3. This is one of my favourite books ever so I had to come and check out your review! I’m glad you loved the book and I loved reading your thoughts on it. I’m actually planning on doing a review/discussion of this book on my blog in the next few weeks under a new feature called Recommended Reading. You should keep your eye out for it! I’d love it if you could contribute.

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  4. This is one of my favorite books! It just blew me away when I read it and I plan on rereading it again at some point soon. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much!

  5. This book sat on my shelf for a few months before I finally read it and when I finally read it I was glad that I did. The opening line with Death talking about how he sees in color caught me right away. I’d recommend it for older children and adults, also.

  6. If you liked this you should check out Zusak’s The Messenger (or I Am Messenger as it’s sometimes called). Very different to The Book Thief, but a great read too!

  7. @ Simcha, @ readinginwinter @ Man of la Book & @ Claudine – You guys should definitely bump this one up on your TBR lists!

    @ Kristen – Thank you!!

    @ Megan – I’ll keep my eyes open for it!

    @ Toni D – I’ll look into The Messenger…thanks:)

    @ Samantha @ Amy @ Lindsay – I’, so glad that I finally read it!

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