Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (no spoilers)

Book: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Publication: March 14th, 2006
Source: Local Library
Read: May 4th-19th, 2014
Summary (from Goodreads):
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 Thoughts
This was my second time reading through The Book Thief, but the first time I have reviewed it on this blog. The first this I read this book I read it for my Senior English Literature class at school. I don't like required reading. There are very few books that I have read for school that I have actually grown to like. The Book Thief is one of the few books I have thoroughly enjoyed. I not only enjoyed it so much to love it the first time, but love it the second time also. 

If you ask anybody who knows me and my bookish obsession I have probably mentioned The Book Thief to them. It is on the top of my recommend list because I have fallen in love with this novel. I think my love for this novel was strengthen by reading it for school the first time. We discussed everything in this novel and we had to write about this novel. It makes a difference between just reading the novel and thinking deeply about the novel. 

Looking at my first review I seemed indifferent about the novel. When I first read it I knew I liked it. I knew that I enjoyed it, but it took months beyond the first read through for this novel to become a favorite. This was the book I couldn't stop thinking about and even better couldn't stop talking about. I have told my sister numerous times how much she should read The Book Thief, so much she is probably annoyed. The first time I read this book I read it with our page count we were supposed to read so it took me three months to completed. I think it is different reading it that far apart than this time reading it straight through in a shorter period of time. 

The writing in this novel is so unique. Death is the narrator of Liesel's story. Death likes distractions during this difficult time during World War II. He is attracted to Liesel and often comes back to Himmel street to watch her. Liesel has just moved in with foster parents Rosa and Hans Huberman. She has nightmares every night of the train that brought her here. That is when Hans starts to teach Liesel to read. Part of the reason I think I love Liesel so much as a character is that she discovers what a beautiful world books brings to life. She falls in love with the written word not much different from myself. 

The author names his favorite character as Rudy. For me Rudy had a small role in Liesel story, but he is the one who sees Liesel's Book Thieving ways the most. For me my favorite character has to be Max and the Mayor's wife Illsa. Max is the jewish man hidden in their basement. Liesel forms a special friendship with Max. They find out they have a lot in common. I always loved Max's personality. He always tried to understand Liesel and Liesel understood Max. Max's stories are some of my favorite moments of the book. If Max was born in a different time I could see him with a completely different life. Then again that is true for any Jew in Nazi, Germany. They have so many scenes together where you can see their friendship form. 

Then there is Liesel's relationship with Illsa. She spends many a days surrounded by books in her library, but Liesel is always hungry for more words. I think Liesel was the contentment in life Illsa was searching for. Liesel found a place that she was comfortable and happy. Some events will make their relationship difficult, but when you read this book you will understand why I find their relationship so special. 

Then there is Liesel's relationship with Hans which is just so special. It is the relationship with Rosa I still find to be the most surprising. There are many other characters in this novel that I could go on all day. These are the characters I most want to highlight. 

The foreshadowing in this novel is complex and wonderful! The writing style and the unique take on World War II is what really won me over with this novel. As I mentioned in my first review of the novel. The ending of the novel was predictable in some ways and in others not so much. The ending was a great ending for this novel though. So many sad and happy things happened at the end of the novel. Death is watching over it all. 

My recommendation is to go check out The Book Thief. If this review didn't convince you maybe the book itself can convince you to fall in love with the orphan Liesel who steals books, hides jews, and lives with Rosa and Hans Huberman. 

I have not seen the movie yet, but will be watching it soon. I have heard it is a wonderful adaption of the book, but I will be the judge of that. 


  1. The Book Thief has become one of my all-time favorite books as well! I recommend it to everyone who hasn't read it. So good!

    1. I'm the same. I fell in love with this book.

  2. I just went online and looked in the Overdrive catalog for my library to discover that the library has 10 copies of the book -- all checked out -- with 76 people having holds for the book. At two weeks per check-out, I'd have to wait 15 weeks or more to come to the top if I were to place a hold today. Fortunately, I think I have a paperback copy sitting in my TBR stack.

    1. I hope you are able to read it. It is a great book. Our hold list is quite long also.

  3. Honestly I didn't love the movie. It wasn't that great to me. I am glad I didn't go to the theater to see it. The book though is amazing and seriously everyone should read it.

    1. The book is wonderful. It is true that I was not wowed by the movie like I am by the book, but it was a good adaptation and movie. I would like to watch it again soon.


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