Thursday, January 08, 2015

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

From Goodreads: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still. By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down.

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: When I tried forcing myself to read Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief before the movie was released last year, I gave up after a few pages. I attempted to read it again a few days ago; and after finishing it, can understand why so many people loved it.

Because I’m having a hard time figuring out how to write a proper review for The Book Thief, I decided to do a pros and cons list instead. 

  • Set in Nazi Germany, The Book Thief does a great job of showing both the compassion and cruelty that humans are capable of. 
  • The book is narrated by Death, who provides a unique perspective because he can talk about the lives of many people and reflect on how their stories intersect. 
  • All of the characters are well-developed. 
  • The writing is lovely, and the slow pacing allowed me to truly appreciate this story.
  • Since Death doesn’t care about spoilers, finding out that certain people would die before they actually died kind of reduced the emotional trauma of their death. 
  • Death could have been a bit clearer about what happened to the living characters after WWII. 
  • As much as I enjoyed the writing, Death’s introspections were sometimes distracting from the actual story. 
The Book Thief was released by Knopf Books for Young Readers in March 2006. 

Comments About the Cover: I like the symbolism of the dominoes. 


  1. I absolutely loved this book! I had to read this one for my YA class in grad school was blown away. I actually thought Death's commentary heightened the emotional trauma for me. Glad you gave this one another shot. The movie adaptation I thought was done quite well.

  2. This book is beautiful! I only read it last year, right before the movie, and it was beautiful. Death was such an interesting narrator and the writing was gorgeous.

  3. I've definitely been curious about this one Z, particularly the fact that Death is the narrator. I can see how knowing who was going to die a bit ahead of time would reduce the emotional impact though. Glad it was still a fantastic read for you overall!

  4. It sounds like Death is the main problem with this book, Z :P But I am quite curious about Death being the narrator! This sounds interesting. Great review!

  5. So glad you were able to power through this one and ended up really loving it!! I did, as well (though I've yet to see the movie!). I remember thinking Death was being awfully spoiler-y too, haha. But I liked him/her/it as a narrator.

  6. Loved this book! I think this book has induced one of the most intense bookish hangovers of my life. I remember finishing it right before dinner, and being completely torn apart, going down and finding that life was going on as normal. I couldn't understand it. I absolutely loathed the movie though. Like hated it! Don't watch it.

    Anywho, thanks for the review, I am glad you liked this one.

  7. I would recommend this book to anyone in high school and older, because it can give one a different perspective of life, especially when seen through a young, troubled child's eyes.

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