The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Published by Alfred A. Knopf on Sept 18, 2007
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 552
Format: Paperback
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five-stars
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

My Review:

Another book on the Holocaust. The last book I read which was set during the same time was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Such books are always sad and get the readers all worked up with all its horror and misery. Makes you relieved that you didn’t have to go through all of it.

I was sobbing away while reading the ending of The Book Thief. Yes, this book has that effect on you especially if you’re an emotional kind of person. I don’t wish to reveal the ending but I’ll tell you the beginning.

This book received a lot of attention and praises that I had really high expectations from it. However, the first 50 or 60 pages didn’t impress me much. I wasn’t used to the odd, short paragraphs and short sentences. But as I went on, the reading became enjoyable and I found myself lost in Liesel’s story.

As most of us who have already read or have an idea on what the book’s about, the narrator is Death. Death? Sounds frightening and morbid, don’t you think? Actually, it’s anything but that. Death sounds kind of melancholic and it’s (or he???) obsessed with talking about colours. I did not care about the colours though. Also, it’s not a totally depressing book. There are parts that can make you laugh too. Seriously, Death can also joke.

Okay, so I read about Liesel’s story. She’s the book thief because she steals books so she can read them later. While travelling to Munich with her mother and brother on a train, her brother dies. He was only six. Liesel would be sent to live with foster parents at Himmel Street. That was in 1939. She does not meet her mother again.

Liesel’s foster parents are Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Hans is a really cool and kind foster father. The total opposite of his loud-mouthed, cursing wife, Rosa. Because of his caring and calm nature, Liesel warms up to him. He comforts her when she wakes up from recurring nightmares of her dead brother and he teaches her to read after those nightmares. He’s like the father she never had.

Anyway, Liesel makes new friends with the kids from her neighbourhood, particularly with her neighbour, Rudy Steiner, who obviously likes Liesel a lot and is always asking her for a kiss whenever the opportunity seems right. Rudy and Liesel become best friends and they always go on stealing sprees together.

I guess my favourite character in the book would be Max Vandenburg. He’s a Jew and with the Hubermanns’ help and permission, he hides in their basement. He feels sorry for putting them to so much trouble but they can’t turn away a man whose father once saved Hans’ life. The sub-chapter, “Liesel’s Lecture”, was an emotional one. It’s where Hans tries to make Liesel understand the danger of spilling out an absolutely dangerous secret, which will ultimately cause unpleasant events.

Liesel and Max, they too become friends. Liesel would find newspapers for him to read and do crossword puzzles. They would sit together in the basement, each doing their own reading. They share a strong bond and you could feel Liesel’s sadness and sorrow when they’re separated later.

All in all, it’s a riveting and keeps you glued to the pages kind of book. It does not have a strong introduction but if you keep on reading, you won’t regret it. Of course, I assume that you’ll keep on reading to find out what happens to all the characters. Read the book and I hope you’ll like it like I do.

Other Bloggers’ Reviews: Nymeth, Laura, Leah, Kristine, Reading Monk, Rimi, Natasha, Alessandra, nylusmilk, Zeek, Tricia, Fresh Ink Books, Aaron, The Book Coop

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28 Comments

  1. Lovely review. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. It made me cry, too.

    And thank you for leaving me your link. I’ve been going through my archives and editing old posts to include links for other reviews, and I’ll be sure to keep yours in mind when I get to The Book Thief.

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  2. Eek, sorry about the double comment. It gave me an error the first time and I thought it hadn’t posted.

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  3. Death as a narrator surprised me as well. I was expecting the entire book to be really dark and depressing, but like you said, Death can even joke! This is such a memorable book for many different reasons. And Max was one of my favorite characters as well. Great review!

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  4. Hi Josette, lovely review of a lovely book. I cried buckets at the end. Thanks for dropping by my site too. I like the style of your blog.

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  5. Thanks for commenting on my blog, and for linking your review of the book. I also sobbed at the end. It is a powerful read.

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  6. Hi Josette, great review! I read this some months back and sobbed so much. One of the best reads for me in 2008.

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  7. Great review of a great book!

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  8. Thanks for the comment on my review. Glad you finally read it, Josette. You’ve also written a wonderful review. Will you read the Messenger book next? (Mine’s still on the shelf at the moment)

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  9. Nymeth: Thanks! Yeah, something’s wrong with this comment function, I gotta figure out how to make it work perfectly.

    Laura: This book is certainly different. What other books have Death as the narrator? None that I’ve heard of so far…

    Leah: Thank you. Haha! I didn’t cry buckets though, just droplets. :D

    Kristine: Thanks for coming here too. I agree with you, it’s powerful. Really unlike others.

    Alice: Hi, thank you. Yes, it’s also one of the best books I’ve read this year so far. 2008′s not over yet though. :)

    Marg: Thank you very much.

    Reading Monk: No prob, your review was great. Yes, I’ll be sure to get a copy of the Messenger book when my pocket’s filled with cash. :D

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  10. Hi Josette, thanks for the comment. Glad you liked the book as much as I did. Great site; I’m now browsing through your other stuff. Keep reading!

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  11. Just stumbled into your blog and wanted to comment about,”The Book Theif.” Although I haven’t read it, just by looking at the review, I can tell that I would really love it. Thanks for posting your review. I love staying on top of the best books- I really enjoy reading. Just finished reading “Letter’s Between Us,” by Linda Overman- which I was able to preread before it’s October 6th release date- Yes I was excited! “The Book Theif” is going to be my next read- I am going to go to the library tomorrow to see if I can check it out.

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  12. I loved this book! Then again, I have this weird fetish and like most all books that take place during the Holocaust. Great review.

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  13. Found you through the blog-hopping challenge. I enjoyed checking out your site.

    I also give two thumbs up to The Book Thief. WOnderful stuff.

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  14. Rimi: Hi, enjoy yourself here! You keep on reading too. :)

    Becky: Oh you gotta read this one as soon as possible! It’s that good. Letters Between Us sounds interesting…will find out more about it. Thanks.

    Natasha: I like to read books set during the Holocaust too because I want to learn more about it. It was a sad time for everyone and the events that happened at that time just intrigue me.

    CB James: Thanks for dropping by. I’m glad you liked The Book Thief too!

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  15. Ohh I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while. Everyone keeps reviewing it on blogs yet I haven’t had a chance to read it yet :(

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  16. Lauren: Hi Lauren, :) oh yeah, you have to read this when you can. Certainly not a book to pass! It’s very, very good…you will be so caught up in the story, wanting to know what’s next. That’s how it was for me.

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  17. Josette –

    Lovely review. I read The Book Thief when it first came out, and cried buckets. & yes, Death has a sense of humor…

    I found your blog while hopping around, and am anticipating reading the rest of your reviews. =) I, myself am a voracious reader, but have never found the words to put together a review. Guess while I’m good at inhaling words, I’m not quite as talented at sharing them.

    drey

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  18. drey: Hi Drey, thanks for coming by my blog! :) Why not start your own book review blog? I’d love to visit it and read your thoughts on books you read.

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  19. I loved this story- but you’re right it did take a bit to get used to the prose!

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  20. Zeek: Good to know that you like it too. Well, getting used to the prose was part of the fun of reading the book! :)

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  21. just recently finished this book and finally understood what the hype is about! yup, a good read, sad though it is.

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  22. nylusmilk: Yeah, it’s definitely one of the most-hyped books around! Lots of bloggers been praising it non-stop. Oh, it is quite a sad book, anything about the Holocaust is sad!

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  23. This was one of my favorite books this year, but I agree you have to keep with it a little at the beginning. Great review!

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  24. Tricia: Same here! It’s one of the best books that I’ve read this year. It’s such a powerful book you know.

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  25. This is the best book that i have ever read, i was gripped by every word and couldn’t put the book down. Not only did it wield my emotions but it immersed me in a world that left me crying at the final full stop. A master-class to say the least.

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  26. Timesh: Wow, I like your comment and yeah, you said it. After the first few chapters, I was completely gripped too. Can’t wait to read Zusak’s other books.

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  27. Thank you for the link to my blog review of this book. I really enjoyed this story.

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  28. Leah: Thanks for coming back!

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