The Book Thief
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.

The Book Thief Details

TitleThe Book Thief
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 14th, 2006
PublisherKnopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN0375831002
ISBN-139780375831003
Number of pages552 pages
Rating
GenreHistorical Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult, Historical, World War II, Holocaust, War, Classics, Cultural, Germany, Audiobook

The Book Thief Review

  • Sophia.
    August 9, 2012
    THE BOOK THIEF: A Summary. Liesel: Hi, I'm Liesel. I have no personality, but I'm a cute little girl. Death: Her name is not Liesel. Her name is THE BOOK THIEF and I shall name her that for the rest of the book.Liesel: Even though I stole, like, 3 books in total or something. Death: Shut up, Book Thief.Rudy: Hello everyone. Have you ever seen a lemon? That's what my hair looks like. Death: Here is a little information you should know: this books is filled with many interesting facts. Very releva THE BOOK THIEF: A Summary. Liesel: Hi, I'm Liesel. I have no personality, but I'm a cute little girl. Death: Her name is not Liesel. Her name is THE BOOK THIEF and I shall name her that for the rest of the book.Liesel: Even though I stole, like, 3 books in total or something. Death: Shut up, Book Thief.Rudy: Hello everyone. Have you ever seen a lemon? That's what my hair looks like. Death: Here is a little information you should know: this books is filled with many interesting facts. Very relevant and everything. We shall kick off with the definition from the dictionary of the word lemon. Reader: The fuck? Death: A lemon is a vegetable that is very yellow and acid. That's what the Book Thief's friend's hair looks like.Reader: That's not a very good description. That's how I picture Rudy now. (view spoiler)[(hide spoiler)]Death: Shut up and read so you can cry, reader.*Intimidated reader keeps on reading*Liesel: Papa!Papa: Liesel. Death: Reader, are you crying yet?Reader: Can you just stop that?Death: What?Reader: That. Popping up out of nowhere? Death: Get used to it. And keep on reading before I killz you! And woohoho, HERE'S A LITTLE FACT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This book is not gonna end well. Reader: Are you serious? You could have used spoiler tags, man! *Annoyed reader keeps on reading*Liesel: Papa, can you play the accordion? Papa: Yes, Liesel. *Plays the accordion. Everyone else is bored*Rudy: Hey, Saukerl. Death: Listen, reader. Saukerl means bitch, basically, but I suppose it's less brutal if they say it in German. HERE IS ANOTHER LITTLE FACT YOU SHOULD KNOW: A lot of random words will be in German for the sole purpose of making this book look smart and bilingual. But it really is useless as every, and I do mean EVERY word in German is immediately followed by the English translation.Reader: Errrr. What's the point then? Death: Who said it has to be useful? I bet you're one of those ridiculous people who thinks a book has to have a plot? Or that characters have to be multi-dimensional? And you probably think that two metaphors per sentence is too much? Well, YOU ARE WRONG. This book will show you exactly how wrong you are.Reader: Uh. Why did I pick up this book again?Death: Because everyone luurved it. And you will, too.*Skeptical reader keeps on reading*Liesel: Papa!Papa: Liesel. Liesel: Mama!Mama: Shut the fuck up, you slut bitch cunt fucking whore. Liesel: Okayyy. Rudy?Rudy: What, Saukerl?Liesel: I don't know. I'm just bored.Reader: So am I.Rudy: Wanna go steal something?Death: YO, READER. HAD YOU FORGOTTEN ME? HERE'S SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW. What the book thief and the lemon are about to do is going to end BADLY. You have the tissues ready?Reader: What?*Random shit happens*Death: MUHAHAHAHA DIDN'T I SAY THAT WOULD HAPPEN?Reader: I know. That's why I'm not crying. I kinda knew it, because you TOLD me EVERYTHING before it actually happened!Death: Shut up and keep on reading.Reader: But I'm already 524 pages in and nothing's happened yet! Sigh.*Goes back to reading.*Rudy: Saukerl, wanna play football?Liesel: Okay.*They play football and everyone else is bored.*Death: HERE IS ...Reader: Oh, man, not you again!Death: I AM THE NARRATOR OF THE STORY AND THEREFORE I SHOULD BE TALKING AT ALL TIMES EVEN THOUGH I AM ACTUALLY INTERRUPTING THE NATURAL FLOW OF THE STORY.Reader: Stop yelling at me. Death: This is an information you should know: This was Nazi Germany and A BOOK WAS SOON TO BE STOLEN.Liesel: Oh, a book. That's nice. Death: SEE? IT IS NAZI GERMANY AND YET IT IS FULL OF BOOK THIEVERY.Reader: Can you just stop glorifying book thievery? It's not that impressive. You make me expect something huge and it's not. So okay, she stole a book. BIG DEAL! It's not that amazing. Stop acting like it is.Death: *glares*Liesel: Papa?Papa: Yes, Liesel? Liesel: Can you read this book for me?Papa: Yes. *They read and everyone else is bored.* Mama: Hey, you fucking punk ass motherfucking slut, dinner's ready!Liesel: Coming, Mommy.Reader: THE FUCK?Death: Here are two informations that you should know. First, the definition from the dictionary of the word Dinner. Dinner is the main meal of the day, eaten in the evening or at midday. ...Reader: This is a joke, right? What's the second information?Death: A JEW IS COMING YOYOYO.Reader: Thanks. I love to be surprised, so it's pretty cool to see how you spoil EVERYTHING. And practically nothing happens in the first place, so everything that COULD make me care for the book is now ruined. Max: Hello, everyone. I am sweet and cliché and nice and Jewish. Love me?Liesel: Yes! Papa and Mama: Let's hide him! Rudy: Hey Saukerl, wanna play football?Liesel: No. Fuck off. *Goes to play with Max. Everyone else is bored*Max: Here Liesel. Look at these 16-pages-long drawings I made for you. Reader: Am I supposed to read that? Hey, Editor! Editor: Yeah? Reader: Why didn't you make the words of these stupid drawings bigger? I can't see shit.Editor: Not my problem. Reader: Fine. I just won't read it, then. Editor: 'S fine. You think I actually read them? Ha, ha. *moonwalks away*Death: HERE IS A LITTLE FACT YOU SHOULD KNOW.Reader: You better tell me that the story is over, I can't take it anymore. Death: Fine. I will tell you how it ends.(view spoiler)[Death: Everyone is gonna DIE. Now there, take this bucket. Fill it with tears. Go on, cry.Reader: But there are still 532832 pages left! What for?Death: Dunno.*Random shit happens.* *Everyone else is bored*Author: Dammit. I don't know how to end that fucking book. Papa, Mama, Liesel, Rudy, Max *all at the same time*: Please, Markus, please, just end it. We're just boring ourselves, kill us, whatever, DO SOMETHING.Author: Mmm.. I have a brilliant idea!*Some random bomb just blows up the whole city.* *Seriously.*Death: HEY HEY, EVERYONE IS DEAD.Liesel: Except me! But I still don't have any personality whatsoever though. So it's not like I matter or anything. Go on, ignore me. *mumbles* I'm used to it anyway. *Fades away and everyone looks for a fuck to give, but no one can find any.*Reader: That's it? That's the grand final? Everyone just fucking dies? Hahahaha. Death: YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO LAUGH. *jiggles empty bucket furiously*Liesel: *goes to her dead mama* Ohh, Mama. I loved you so. You were so beautiful!Mama: *wakes up from the dead* YOU GODDAMN PUNK ASS MOTHERFUCKING SLUT, DON'T YOU FUCKING TOUCH ME.Reader: Hahaha! Brilliant! (That doesn't happen, though.)Death: *seethes* How DARE you! Reader: Whatever. The book's over. I'm exhausted. Ciao. Death: *all mysterious* I will see you soon...*Book ends. Everyone is just so fucking relieved.*(hide spoiler)]
    more
  • La Petite Américaine
    July 24, 2008
    UPDATE: AUG 26, 2016: This review has been here 8 years, has 18 pages of 854 comments and 764 likes. There's no outrage for you to add in the comments section that hasn't already been addressed.If you want to talk about the book, or why you liked it, or anything else, feel free. UPDATE: FEB 17, 2014: I wrote this review 4 years ago on a foreign keyboad, so I'm well aware that I spelled Chekhov's name wrong. I'm not going to fix it, so please don't drive my review further up in the rankings by co UPDATE: AUG 26, 2016: This review has been here 8 years, has 18 pages of 854 comments and 764 likes. There's no outrage for you to add in the comments section that hasn't already been addressed.If you want to talk about the book, or why you liked it, or anything else, feel free. UPDATE: FEB 17, 2014: I wrote this review 4 years ago on a foreign keyboad, so I'm well aware that I spelled Chekhov's name wrong. I'm not going to fix it, so please don't drive my review further up in the rankings by commenting on the misspelling. You're very dear, but I know his name is Anton and not Antonin. On that same note, you don't need to add comments telling me that I didn't like the book because I "don't know how to read" and "don't understand metaphors." I actually have an M.A. in in English Lit, so I do know how to read -- much better than you do, in fact. Now quit bothering me before I go get my PhD and then really turn into a credential-touting ass. UPDATE: JULY 10, 2013: To all jr. high students who find themselves grossly offended by my review: please remember that every time you leave a comment here, you push my review up even higher in the rankings. Please save us both time and energy by not commenting. Thnx. This was the biggest piece of garbage I've ever read after The Kite Runner. Just as with The Kite Runner, I'm (somewhat) shocked that this book is a bestseller and has been given awards, chewed up and swallowed by the literary masses and regarded as greatness. Riiiight. The whole thing can be summed up as the story of a girl who sometimes steals books coming of age during the Holocaust. Throw in the snarky narration by Death (nifty trick except that it doesn't work), a few half-assed drawings of birdies and swastikas, senseless and often laughable prose that sounds like it was pulled from the "poetry" journal of a self-important 15 year-old, and a cast of characters that throughout are like watching cardboard cutouts walking around VERY SLOWLY, and that's the novel. Here are some humble observations. First, chances are that you, Mr. Zusak, are not Antonin Chekhov. You are, therefore, incapable of properly describing the weather for use as a literary device, and you end up sounding like an asshole. Don't believe me?"I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate." Really? Do you, now? "The sky was dripping. Like a tap that a child has tried it’s hardest to turn off but hasn’t quite managed.” Really?? Wow. Next you'll tell me that the rain was like a shower. I'm moved. "Oh, how the clouds stumbled in and assembled stupidly in the sky. Great obese clouds." Yes. Stupid, obese clouds! They need an education and a healthy diet!Next, chances are that you, Mr. Zusak, are not William Styron or any one of the other small handful of authors that can get away with Holocaust fiction. They've done their research, had some inkling of writing ability, and were able to tell fascinating stories. You invented a fake town in Germany (probably so you didn't have to do any research) and told a long-winded and poorly-written story, and in 500+ pages you couldn't even make it to 1945, so you sloppily dropped off and wrapped it up in 1943. What's the point of writing historical fiction if you can't even stay within the basic confines of that hisotrical event? For me, this does nothing more than trivialize the mass murder of over 6 million people. Maybe that's why a 30 year-old Australian shouldn't write about the Holocaust. But that's just me. Moving on. But what really makes this book expensive toilet paper is the bad writing which is to be found not just in bizarre descriptions of the weather, but really on every page. Some personal favorites? "The breakfast colored sun." "Somewhere inside her were the souls of words." "The oldened young man." WTF?!!? "He crawled to a disfigured figure." "Her words were motionless." "It smelled like friendship." (Remind me to sniff my friends next time I see them.)"A multitude of words and sentences were at her fingertips." (HUH?) "Pinecones littered the ground like cookies." Sigh. All of this is quite funny coming from a book where the main character supposedly learns the importance of words. Further, I love that the protagonist comes to the conclusion that Hitler "would be nothing without words." Really? REALLY? Would Hitler be nothing without WORDS? What about self-loathing, misplaced blame and hatred, an ideology, xenophobia, charisma, an army, and a pride-injured nation willing to listen? Don't those count for something?? The shit-storm comes to an end when a bomb lands on our fictional town, wiping out everyone save for the sometimes book-thief main character. Of course. Because weak writers who don't know how to end their story just kill everyone off for a clean break and some nice emotional manipulation. Written for maximum tear-jerking effect, our main character spews out some great lines when she sees the death and destruction around her: To her dead mother, "God damn it, you were so beautiful." To her dead best friend as she shakes him, "Wake up! I love you! Wake up!" (Didn't I see the same thing in that movie My Girl?)Then she profoundly notes that her dead father "...was a man with silver eyes, not dead ones." And this kind of angsty adolescent prose just never ended! It went on and on to form the one long-ass, senseless, disjointed story. But that's ok. Take it all the junk, give it a quirky narrator, an obscure and mysterious title, throw in a Jew on the run from Nazis who likes to draw silly pictures of birds and swastikas, and market it all as Holocaust lit. Ahh, the packaging of bullshit makes for such a sweet best seller. Swallow it down, America. Put it on the shelf next to The Kite Runner. You love this. You live for this. SUCKED.
    more
  • Colleen
    August 18, 2007
    I put off reading this book for the library book club. Here are my three reasons for doing so:1) It's a Young Adult Book. I am an Adult. It can't be that good if it's written for young people.2) It's about the Holocaust, and I think we've all heard enough about that. The author will probably even focus on colors among the grays, as in "Schindler's List."3) I have WAY too many other books to read.After avoiding the book for as long as possible, I sat down, hoping to enjoy it enough to gain some c I put off reading this book for the library book club. Here are my three reasons for doing so:1) It's a Young Adult Book. I am an Adult. It can't be that good if it's written for young people.2) It's about the Holocaust, and I think we've all heard enough about that. The author will probably even focus on colors among the grays, as in "Schindler's List."3) I have WAY too many other books to read.After avoiding the book for as long as possible, I sat down, hoping to enjoy it enough to gain some clever comments for the book group.Turns out, most of my concerns were right. But one other thing was also true: THIS BOOK ROCKS.The first thing any review will say about this book is that it is narrated by death. So, I might as well get it out of the way. Death, the Hooded One, the Angel of the Night, narrates. He is very busy during the war years, as you might expect. Some people claim this is a mere gimmick, and that the story is strong enough as it is. I agree that this is a strong story-- it moves like a sailboat on a brisk day-- but I think the choice to tell it through Death was a good one. Death foreshadows constantly, so we know a bit about which of the characters will die. Instead of ruining the shock value, this heightened my anticipation and dread. And isn't that how people feel during war? They know some of them are bound to die. They know they will lose loved ones. It's one long, hellish wait to see how it will turn out. It's also an unusual take on the Holocaust because it focuses on Liesel, an orphaned German girl living in Hitler's birthplace. Liesel (The Book Thief) and the other characters in this book are rich, interesting, and wily. I say wily because at points in the book you hate them, but they change, and you grow to love them. For instance, Liesel's adopted mother is a foul-mouthed, abusive, sharp woman. (SPOILER--->) When Liesel's adopted father is shipped off to war, however, Liesel creeps through the house to see Rosa sleeping with her husband's accordian strapped around her waist. Rosa's changes prove one of the greatest reasons to read good literature-- to get insight into the type of people we don't usually give a second chance.
    more
  • Tamara
    July 7, 2007
    I give this 5 stars, BUT there is a disclaimer: If you want a fast read, this book is not for you. If you only like happy endings this book is not for you. If you don't like experimental fiction, this book is not for you. If you love to read and if you love to care about the characters you read about and if you love to eat words like they're ice cream and if you love to have your heart broken and mended on the same page, this book is for you. This story is narrated by Death during World War II, I give this 5 stars, BUT there is a disclaimer: If you want a fast read, this book is not for you. If you only like happy endings this book is not for you. If you don't like experimental fiction, this book is not for you. If you love to read and if you love to care about the characters you read about and if you love to eat words like they're ice cream and if you love to have your heart broken and mended on the same page, this book is for you. This story is narrated by Death during World War II, and it is the story of a young German girl who comes of age during one of the most horrific times in recent history. Death has a personality. If something bad is about to happen, Death warns you ahead of time. My favorite part is when "he" stomps on a framed picture of Hitler on his way to retrieve a thousand souls from a bomb raid. Death is trying to understand the human race as much as the humans are. When "his" job becomes unbearable, he watches the color of the sky as he gathers the souls and carries them away. The descriptions of the sky are like nothing I've ever read. A few quotes: In years to come, he would be a giver of bread, not a stealer - proof again of the contradictory human being. So much good, so much evil. Just add water. p.164The town that afternoon was covered in a yellow mist, which stroked the rooftops as if they were pets and filled up the streets like a bath. p.247He was more a black suit than a man. His face was a mustache. p.413He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. he steps on my heart. He makes me cry. p.531There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life: 1. He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else. 2. He would make himself a small, strange mustache. 3. He would one day rule the world. ...Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words. p.445
    more
  • Jesse (JesseTheReader)
    February 21, 2016
    Video review can be found here: https://youtu.be/rzEHcw769xgIt's going to take awhile for this book to fully sink in, but overall this was a masterpiece.
  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    December 25, 2007
    This is a book to treasure, a new classic. I absolutely loved it.Set in Germany in the years 1939-1943, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, narrated by Death who has in his possession the book she wrote about these years. So, in a way, they are both book thieves. Liesel steals randomly at first, and later more methodically, but she's never greedy. Death pockets Liesel's notebook after she leaves it, forgotten in her grief, amongst the destruction that was once her street, her home, and car This is a book to treasure, a new classic. I absolutely loved it.Set in Germany in the years 1939-1943, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, narrated by Death who has in his possession the book she wrote about these years. So, in a way, they are both book thieves. Liesel steals randomly at first, and later more methodically, but she's never greedy. Death pockets Liesel's notebook after she leaves it, forgotten in her grief, amongst the destruction that was once her street, her home, and carries it with him.Liesel is effectively an orphan. She never knew her father, her mother disappears after delivering her to her new foster parents, and her younger brother died on the train to Molching where the foster parents live. Death first encounters nine-year-old Liesel when her brother dies, and hangs around long enough to watch her steal her first book, The Gravedigger's Handbook, left lying in the snow by her brother's grave.Her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Herbermann, are poor Germans given a small allowance to take her in. Hans, a tall, quiet man with silver eyes, is a painter (of houses etc.) and plays the accordian. He teaches Liesel how to read and write. Rosa is gruff and swears a lot but has a big heart, and does laundry for rich people in the town. Liesel becomes best friends with her neighbour Rudy, a boy with "hair the colour of lemons" who idolises the black Olympic champion sprinter Jesse Owens. One night a Jew turns up in their home. He's the son of a friend of Hans from the first world war, the man who taught him the accordian, whose widowed wife Hans promised to help if she ever needed it. Hans is a German who does not hate Jews, though he knows the risk he and his family are taking, letting Max live in the basement. Max and Liesel become close friends, and he writes an absolutely beautiful story for her, called The Standover Man, which damn near broke my heart. It's the story of Max, growing up and coming to Liesel's home, and it's painted over white-painted pages of Mein Kampf, which you can see through the paint.Whenever I read a book, I cannot help but read it in two ways: the story itself, and how it's written. They're not quite inseparable, but they definitely support each other. With The Book Thief, Markus Zusak has shown he's a writer of genius, an artist of words, a poet, a literary marvel. His writing is lyrical, haunting, poetic, profound. Death is rendered vividly, a lonely, haunted being who is drawn to children, who has had a lot of time to contemplate human nature and wonder at it. Liesel is very real, a child living a child's life of soccer in the street, stolen pleasures, sudden passions and a full heart while around her bombs drop, maimed veterans hang themselves, bereaved parents move like ghosts, Gestapo take children away and the dirty skeletons of Jews are paraded through the town.Many things save this book from being all-out depressing. It's never morbid, for a start. A lively humour dances through the pages, and the richness of the descriptions as well as the richness of the characters' hearts cannot fail to lift you up. Also, it's great to read such a balanced story, where ordinary Germans - even those who are blond and blue-eyed - are as much at risk of losing their lives, of being persecuted, as the Jews themselves.I can't go any further without talking about the writing itself. From the very first title page, you know you're in for something very special indeed. The only way to really show you what I mean is to select a few quotes (and I wish I was better at keeping track of lines I love)."As he looked uncomfortably at the human shape before him, the young man's voice was scraped out and handed across the dark like it was all that remained of him." (p187) "Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day. That was the business of hiding a Jew." (p.239)"The book was released gloriously from his hand. It opened and flapped, the pages rattling as it covered ground in the air. More abruptly than expected, it stopped and appeared to be sucked towards the water. It clapped when it hit the surface and began to float downstream." (p.325)"So many humans. So many colours. They keep triggering inside me. They harass my memory. I see them tall in their heaps, all mounted on top of each other. There is air like plastic, a horizon like setting glue. There are skies manufactured by people, punctured and leaking, and there are soft, coal-coloured clouds, beating, like black hearts. And then. There is death. Making his way through all of it. On the surface: unflappable, unwavering. Below: unnerved, untied, and undone." (p.331)"After ten minutes or so, what was most prominent in the cellar was a kind of non-movement. Their bodies were welded together and only their feet changed position or pressure. Stillness was shackled to their faces. They watched each other and waited." (p.402)"People and Jews and clouds all stopped. They watched. As he stood, Max looked first at the girl and then stared directly into the sky who was wide and blue and magnificent. There were heavy beams - planks of sun - falling randomly, wonderfully, onto the road. Clouds arched their backs to look behind as they started again to move on. "It's such a beautiful day," he said, and his voice was in many pieces. A great day to die. A great day to die, like this." (pp.543-4)Writing like this is not something just anyone can do: it's true art. Only a writer of Zusak's talent could make this story work, and coud get away with such a proliferation of adjectives and adverbs, to write in such a way as to revitalise the language and use words to paint emotion and a vivid visual landscape in a way you'd never before encountered. This is a book about the power of words and language, and it is fitting that it is written in just such this way. The way this book was written also makes me think of a musical, or an elaborate, flamboyant stage-play. It's in the title pages for each part, in Death's asides and manner of emphasing little details or even speech, in the way Death narrates, giving us the ending at the beginning, giving little melodrammatic pronouncements that make you shiver. It's probably the first book I've read that makes me feel how I feel watching The Phantom of the Opera, if that helps explain it.And it made me cry.
    more
  • Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
    August 11, 2011
    “When death captures me,” the boy vowed, “he will feel my fist on his face.”Personally, I quite like that. Such stupid gallantry.Yes.I like that a lot.A few days ago, when I was starting The Book Thief, my mother stopped by and saw the book on my coffee table. Having just read it herself (and knowing me better than anyone else in the world, I might add), she was determined to save me from myself. She did her very best to convince me not to read it. She described in detail the three day long head “When death captures me,” the boy vowed, “he will feel my fist on his face.”Personally, I quite like that. Such stupid gallantry.Yes.I like that a lot.A few days ago, when I was starting The Book Thief, my mother stopped by and saw the book on my coffee table. Having just read it herself (and knowing me better than anyone else in the world, I might add), she was determined to save me from myself. She did her very best to convince me not to read it. She described in detail the three day long headache all the crying had caused her and the heartache she now has to live with, but I’m nothing if not stubborn. I guess I never learned to listen to my mother. I’m pretty sure her parting sentence was: “Don’t come crying to me.” And I didn’t. I huddled in a corner and cried inconsolably instead. Death himself narrates the story about a little girl named Liesel growing up with her foster parents in Nazi Germany. At the beginning, I felt somewhat intimidated by the idea of Death as a narrator. I assumed that his voice would be dark and thunderous, but for the most part, he was a ray of light illuminating earth’s saddest time. Incredibly insightful observations and occasional dry humor are only some of the things no one but Death could have brought into this story. Besides, we hear people calling God’s name every day for many reasons, but when Death calls to Him in despair and even those calls fall on deaf ears, no one can fail to understand the gravity of the situation.I do not carry a sickle or a scythe.I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold.And I don’t have those skull-like facial features you seem to enjoypinning on me from a distance. You want to know what I truly look like?I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.The Book Thief is not one of those books you read compulsively, desperate to find out what’s on the next page. No. It is, in fact, better to read it slowly, in small doses, in a way that allows you to savor every word and absorb the power and the magic it contains. All the while, you know what’s going to happen. Death has no patience for mysteries. However, anticipation of the inevitable makes it even worse. My whole body was tingling with fear because I knew what was coming and I knew that it was only a matter of time.Zusak found a way to give a fresh approach to a much-told story. He offered a glimpse at the other side of the coin. Really, should we feel sorry for the people hiding in a basement in Munich suburbs? Sure, bombs are falling on their heads, but most of them are members of the Nazi Party, willingly or reluctantly. Some of them truly think that Jews are no better than rats. Some, on the other hand, are hiding a Jew in their own basement. Some are just innocent children. But the more important question is, are we any better at all if we don’t feel compassion and sorrow? Death does a great job of asking all these questions in a calm, unobtrusive way.I’m not pretentious enough to believe that my clumsy words can ever do this book justice. I won’t even try. Time will speak for it, as I’m pretty sure it will survive for decades and generations to come. The Book Thief and Markus Zusak should find their place in every school textbook all over the world. Seven thousand stars could never be enough for this book. EDIT: A few words from the man himself:https://twitter.com/#!/Markus_Zusak/s...https://twitter.com/#!/Markus_Zusak/s...
    more
  • Kat Kennedy
    June 3, 2010
    Just to clarify: Yes, I did cry.I've read a lot of positive and negative reviews for this book. I can see why people wouldn't like it - I really can. Perhaps because I took a lot out of it personally, I found I enjoyed it a lot.Quick test to see if you'll like this book:1. Did you like Anne of Green Gables?2. Can you cope with an off-beat, melancholy, caustic, dead-pan, self-righteous narrator?3. Do you like words?(Questions 4-8 were all about what kind of underwear you're wearing so don't worry Just to clarify: Yes, I did cry.I've read a lot of positive and negative reviews for this book. I can see why people wouldn't like it - I really can. Perhaps because I took a lot out of it personally, I found I enjoyed it a lot.Quick test to see if you'll like this book:1. Did you like Anne of Green Gables?2. Can you cope with an off-beat, melancholy, caustic, dead-pan, self-righteous narrator?3. Do you like words?(Questions 4-8 were all about what kind of underwear you're wearing so don't worry about them).So, let's all gather around for story time with Mistress Kat.Two incidents set me off lately.1. My neighbour came to me and complained about the Islanders (for those not Australian: the Tongan, Fiji, Papa New Guinea and New Zealand populations of Australia) causing trouble and otherwise defiling our great and beautiful nation.2. I was tooling around on Facebook when I noticed one of my friends (one of those friends you’ve never met except in an internet community) hosting a link to a video of a speech from a man addressing the American people. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he is reminiscent of a neo-Hitler but let’s just say that the comparison would not be wholly unearned. Her comments on the video were that: everything he’d said was right, it was time that people sat up and listened for the sake of their country and that it’s about time “somebody did something”. (Fuck me, I’ve heard this phrase so many times. What is it exactly that they’re referring to? Do they actually know? I’ve yet to hear them pronounce what this “something” is or what it looks like. Is there some plan that I’m not aware of that they’re referring to? Does it involve chipmunks, honey and tequila?)To my neighbour, I simply mumbled that I had to leave and got in my car. I was offended on behalf of my friends so I blew him off and I haven’t really spoken to him since. To my Facebook friend, I resisted the urge to make any comments. I debated about starting a fight that would, in all likelihood, spill over to our community. In the end I ignored her and I haven’t spoken to her since.The Book Thief is not your typical WWII story. It doesn’t even ask you to sympathize with the Jews. Their plight is background to the story and their struggles and pains are rarely shown except through the pitiful/beautiful character of Max. This story actually focuses on the bad guys. Zusak assumes that you know about the struggle and the plight of the Jews. He assumes that you feel for them, that you are horrified on their behalf and so he doesn’t spend much time eliciting an emotion that you are expected to have.Instead it focuses on the BAD guys. You get to know and live the lives of a small and poor town in Germany. The thing is, though, that these aren’t really the bad guys. Zusak, probably rightly, assumes that we’d never be able to really empathize and enjoy reading a book about characters truly bad. They’re not really bad. After all, they may be Germans and they may have escaped persecution and death, but they’re still poor. They’re the tiny fraction of the German population who sympathizes with the Jews. They harbour a Jewish man in their home and come to love him. The thing is though that for most of the novel, they’re not the good guys either. They don’t speak up for the Jewish people, they don’t try to change popular opinion, they don’t stand for what’s right. They quietly try to get by without causing waves and without risking much of themselves.So you can see how I would sympathize. How could I think that I’m one of the “good guys” when I don’t stand up for people either? Shouldn’t I have challenged my neighbour and asked how he knew that the Islanders were to blame for all the crime? Shouldn’t I have asked him how many Islanders he knew? How he could make such assumptions about people? Shouldn’t I have challenged my facebook friend? Shouldn’t I have asked her why she’s spreading propaganda? Couldn’t I have probed her to think critically about this man’s claims, about facts and ethics? No. I didn’t want to cause problems and I didn’t want to make waves.The narrator of The Book Thief makes a claim that Hitler’s took over a country and started a war – not with guns or weapons but with words. I’ve read others consider this claim to be stupid and ridiculous but I actually agree with him. When I was a child I asked my Great Aunt Nell why she insisted on engaging me in long and tedious hypothetical debates about morality, human nature, ethics and theology. Her response was always the same: if you don’t fill a child’s head with all the right stuff, someone will come along and fill it with all the wrong stuff. It’s kind of like those corny motivational quotes that the teachers post in their rooms: Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.Well, I agree. When you don’t educate people, when you don’t teach them to think critically, with full understanding and proper knowledge, then other people come along and whisper in their ear and fill their heads up with mindless rot. Hitler told the German people how to think. He told them who was Wrong. Why they were Wrong. How to fix the Wrong. What was Right. Then he did the most powerful thing a person could do: he told them a story. When you tell a whole nation a story about the future – a gloriously bright future with Plenty and Joy; a future in which they are redeemed and have conquered their enemies; a future in which they are happy and Everything Is As It Should Be – and if you tell that story well enough, then you can conquer a country and wage a war without ever firing a single bullet. Coincidently when you don’t speak up, when you don’t proclaim the truth, when you’re too afraid to replace ignorance with knowledge then you’re no better than an accomplice to a crime. I can’t imagine how my friends would feel if they’d known that I stood by and allowed them and their family and children to be slandered like that. Pretty appalled, I imagine – and rightfully so.And now we come to the big reason why I think a lot of people didn’t like this book – the narrator.The Hunger Games did a similar thing to The Book Thief. It sought to instil in its readers a sense of proper shame. However, as opposed to The Book Thief, you didn’t feel judged. After all, for the Sins that The Hunger Games was preaching of, we’re all guilty – and in our combined guilt there seems to be a lessening of accountability. Perhaps there’s a sense that we’re all going down together. When we’re damned, at least we’ll have good company, right? The Book Thief, however, singles you out as solely responsible. It strips you naked and looks down on you as it asks you to account of yourself. Not even the narrator can sympathize with you because he is the only one left blameless and innocent, looking upon us with a reserved kind of pity and bewilderment. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. I don’t mind being stripped down. I don’t mind being reprimanded and so I loved this book. I loved this book for inspiring me to be even more outlandishly outspoken and persistently and doggedly forthcoming on my opinions of these issues. I loved this book because I loved the narrator. I loved this book because I loved the story. I loved this book because I now have the PERFECT excuse to start a helluva lot more fights. For some reason, that thought makes me very happy.
    more
  • Emily May
    February 10, 2011
    I hate it when this happens, I truly do. It makes me feel wrong inside when everyone else loves a book that I find to be underwhelming... I mean, what's wrong with me?? Did I not get it?? Obviously it must be a lack of intelligence or something because everyone seems to rate this 5 stars. I was looking through my friend reviews hoping that someone would share my opinion - at least a tiny bit - and seeing 5 stars, 5 stars, 4.5 stars, 5 stars... I can appreciate that Markus Zusak is a very talente I hate it when this happens, I truly do. It makes me feel wrong inside when everyone else loves a book that I find to be underwhelming... I mean, what's wrong with me?? Did I not get it?? Obviously it must be a lack of intelligence or something because everyone seems to rate this 5 stars. I was looking through my friend reviews hoping that someone would share my opinion - at least a tiny bit - and seeing 5 stars, 5 stars, 4.5 stars, 5 stars... I can appreciate that Markus Zusak is a very talented writer, some of the phrases he uses are beautiful and highly quotable - more reminiscent of poetry than prose. And the story idea? A tale narrated by Death and set in Nazi Germany... original and ominous. But it was the story-telling that never really worked for me. This is one of those incredibly slow, subtle books that are told in a series of anecdotes and are meant to cleverly build up a bigger picture... but the stories just didn't interest me.I could imagine I was reading a collection of short stories (and not a full-length novel) about playground fights, developing friendships, WWI stories and death. The book felt almost episodic in nature. These stories are supposed to come together and form a novel that is all kinds of awesome, but it was so bland. I also think that nearly 600 pages of "subtlety" can make you want to throw yourself off the nearest tall building... anyone read To the Lighthouse and spend 99% of it just wishing they'd get to the effin' lighthouse?! I'm giving this book 3 stars for the pretty words and the concept. But other than that this book unfortunately won't stay with me. I find it an easily forgettable novel. I'm sorry :(Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store
    more
  • Nataliya
    March 15, 2011
    Wow. Words cannot describe how much I loved this book, what impact it had on me. But, like Liesel, words is all I have, so I will have to try.This is a lyrical, poignant, heartbreaking, soul-shattering story disjointedly told by a nearly-omniscient, fascinated by humans narrator - Death. (***I must confess that I kept imagining Death as the small-caps speaking Grim Reaper from Pratchett's Discworld, baffled by humans and loving cats and curry. Don't judge me - I needed a glimpse of fun in the bl Wow. Words cannot describe how much I loved this book, what impact it had on me. But, like Liesel, words is all I have, so I will have to try.This is a lyrical, poignant, heartbreaking, soul-shattering story disjointedly told by a nearly-omniscient, fascinated by humans narrator - Death. (***I must confess that I kept imagining Death as the small-caps speaking Grim Reaper from Pratchett's Discworld, baffled by humans and loving cats and curry. Don't judge me - I needed a glimpse of fun in the bleakness of Zusak's story.*** ) Death has plenty to keep it busy, as the story is set in Nazi Germany during World War II. ""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.""And yet he becomes strangely fascinated with one particular human, the titular book thief, a young German girl Liesel Meminger, whose childhood is marked by war, who learns to read and love and treasure books, who has her small rebellions against the force of society, who learns to love and be loved. Who has to learn to lose what she loves. Because the world is baffling, because it is a cruel place, because often it tries to stomp out love and beauty."I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that's where they begin. Their great skills is their capacity to escalate."The book is beautifully surreal, with the masterfully written language reflecting the alien, non-understandable, strangely fascinating nature of the narrator - Death. It is the mix of colors and strange metaphors, semi-dictionary entries and frequent strange asides, with skipping time, with complete disregard for spoilers. "Of course, I'm being rude. I'm spoiling the ending, not only of the entire book, but of this particular piece of it. I have given you two events in advance, because I don't have much interest in building mystery. Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. "It will note the strangest things, ruminate about the weirdest subjects, and casually in the middle of a lyrical passage, omnisciently will tell us that terrible things are about to occur. It is its job to know, after all. And this prescience does not soften the blows when they finally come; it only brings anticipatory dread and loving appreciation for things and people while they still ARE."(view spoiler)[Years ago, when they'd raced on a muddy field, Rudy was a hastily assembled set of bones, with a jagged, rocky smile. In the trees this afternoon, he was a giver of bread and teddy bears. He was a triple Hitler Youth athletics champion. He was her best friend. And he was a month from his death (hide spoiler)]."Love. Beauty. And books. This is what the story set against the terrible backdrop of war is about. Zusak accomplished a difficult feat - making me ache for the children of the enemy, the children and people of Nazi Germany, because even when caught in the middle of destruction, even ending up on different sides of artificial barricades people are still people, still deserving of love, still beautiful.This book is the ode to those who kept their humanity in the middle of war, who were so human that nothing could ever change that. Rudy Steiner, the boy with the "hair the color of lemons", who has so much love and integrity and life (view spoiler)[that I cried myself to sleep over his fate that Death so casually and cruelly revealed to us (hide spoiler)], who was by Liesel's side since the beginning of their friendship - "A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship." - Rudy, who dreamed about the kiss from Liesel (view spoiler)[ until the end of his bright and too-short life."She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Liesel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist's suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers... She did not say goodbye. She was incapable, and after a few more minutes at his side, she was able to tear herself from the ground. It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on." (hide spoiler)]"He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry."Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who possessed so much integrity and courage, who became real parents to Liesel, who risked everything for what they thought was right. Max Vandenburg, the Jewish fistfighter, who dreamed of battling Hitler and gave Liesel the perfect gift with everything he had."[...] Papa, you saved me. You taught me to read. No one can play like you. I'll never drink champagne. No one can play like you.""Make no mistake, the woman had a heart. She had a bigger one that people would think. There was a lot in it, stored up, high in miles of hidden shelving. Remember that she was the woman with the instrument strapped to her body in the long, moon-slit night.""And Liesel herself, lost and broken, but finding comfort and strength in family, friends, and books. Liesel, who learns more about the cold cruelty of this world than most children should ever know. Liesel, who learns to read from the Gravedigger's handbook, who rescues the book from fire, who would rather steal books than food, who is not afraid to show kindness in the face of very real threat, who finally gives Rudy that overdue kiss, who fascinates even Death itself. All of them remained human despite the circumstances, despite the pressure to do otherwise, despite anything. And I love them for that.This is a wonderful, lyrical, surreal, excellent book that broke my heart into tiny little pieces and yet gave me hope that even in the worst of times we can find beauty. 5 stars is not enough, but this is all I can give. "I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right."-----------------DISCLAIMER: This is the first review that I've wrote after working four 14-hour days in a row followed by endless reading of textbooks and paperwork, all sore from endless and painful retracting in surgery, having composed this review in my head as a means to not pass out from hunger in the endless surgery. So if something in it seems incoherent - that's why.
    more
  • Michael
    June 10, 2008
    I am apparently one of the few people who just do not see what all of the hype is about on this one. I was really excited to read this after all of the glowing reviews it got, but I was left extremely disappointed. I found the writing stilted and stuttering (hard to stutter in writing, but this book pulls it off), overly sentimental, and heavy-handed on the symbolism.I also found the author's approach to the story to be just plain gimmicky. The first and foremost gimmick (also see heavyy-handed I am apparently one of the few people who just do not see what all of the hype is about on this one. I was really excited to read this after all of the glowing reviews it got, but I was left extremely disappointed. I found the writing stilted and stuttering (hard to stutter in writing, but this book pulls it off), overly sentimental, and heavy-handed on the symbolism.I also found the author's approach to the story to be just plain gimmicky. The first and foremost gimmick (also see heavyy-handed symbolism) is that the story is narrated by Death. Now, this might work in some books, but not this one. The choice of narrator adds absolutely nothing to the story; it is only a distraction to the reader, and it also encouraged the author to add trite observations about Death's perspective (for example, he doesn't carry a scythe, but likes the human image) that add nothing to the story. If Death here had been given developed personality or a unique perspective, then maybe (and even then it's a stretch) the choice of narrator would have worked. As it is, the story is told almost entirely as though by an omniscient narrator (is Death omniscient?) and we get absolutely nothing from the choice of Death to fill the role. It's a gimmick, and it falls flat.The other gimmick I found most distracting (these are not the only two, but they are the most egregious) is the repeated use of little newsflash-type, bold and centered notes that appear periodically through the story to highlight some stupid point and add (in the author's mind) dramatic effect. These newsflashes, as I think of them, were irritating and served only to break up the natural narrative flow without adding anything significant. This is another example of the author hitting the reader over the head with his points, rather than trusting his own writing to get the message across. This is another ill-conceived and heavy-handed gimmick intended to correct for a poor narrative.I think it is telling that while this book gets listed as teen fiction, Zusak actually wrote it for adults. For some reason, it got identified as being for teens when it got marketed in the U.S. (it was written in Australia). It seems to me that the explanation for this change is that the novel feels like it was written by a very immature author, and so the prose does not attain the quality one should expect of adult fiction.I think good Holocaust stories need to be told, but the Book Thief fails at that endeavor. The story is trite; the narrative is sentimental and uninspired. I recommend that you look elsewhere for something better. If you want something for younger readers, try Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry. If you're a bit older, also read Night by Elie Weisel or the Diary of Anne Frank. I might even add in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, to counteract the heavy-handed book-burning theme of the Book Thief. There's plenty more out there that better deserve your time and attention than does this book.
    more
  • Zannachan
    January 11, 2008
    I had a hardcover of this book. I no longer have it. I did not even finish reading it, because it irritated me so much and when I asked if it got better no one could convince me that it was worth persevering. I know that there are many people who love this book, authors who's book I love, readers who's tastes I respect. But I couldn't stand the narrator. Every time the Narrator intruded on the story it felt like exactly that--an intrusion. A lot of people really like the narrator, and I imagine I had a hardcover of this book. I no longer have it. I did not even finish reading it, because it irritated me so much and when I asked if it got better no one could convince me that it was worth persevering. I know that there are many people who love this book, authors who's book I love, readers who's tastes I respect. But I couldn't stand the narrator. Every time the Narrator intruded on the story it felt like exactly that--an intrusion. A lot of people really like the narrator, and I imagine if you did the book would be much more enjoyable to read. As it was I found the writing style consciously "artistic" or "literary" while the characters felt fake, superficial, and mechanical. I was too aware of the mechanics of the story and how he was manipulating the reader--kind of like going to a puppet show and having the puppeteer continually slipping and letting himself be seen. It kept knocking me out of the story.Holocaust fiction is hard for me to read anyway, because it's an incredibly difficult period of history and human experience to read about. For me to want to read Holocaust fiction, it had better be better than okay, or even good--ti had better be absolutely amazing for me to be willing to put myself through the emotional pain and struggles that are inherent with a holocaust book. Real life is hard enough for me to get upset and stressed out by a mediocre book.And please don't take that to mean that I only read books that are light and fluffy and safe, because I do read books that are hard, that are sad. But while some people same to take pleasure in reading a book just because it is sad ("Oh, this is a wonderful book! It made me cry!"), I don't enjoy crying in and of itself. For me to read a book that is heart wrenching, it had better offer me something besides an emotional train wreck--powerful characters I really care about, an engrossing story line, some new observation on human existence and human relations, something. I do not usually read fiction to "learn," per se--that is, if I wanted to learn more about the Holocaust, I'd read non-fiction accounts. I have read non-fiction accounts. I have read a few things of Holocaust fiction as well, and I have read some scholarly work as well. So it doesn't sell me on the book that it is a painful story, that it shows that some Germans were good and how social pressures created the Holocaust. I needed it to be a book about people that really interested me, that I cared about, and instead I was bored with the characters and irritated at the narrator and the obvious manipulations of the author. Instead of getting wrapped into the story, every night I when I was reading it I'd throw it down and vent for a half an hour to my husband about something that annoyed me. After a few nights of this, I realized that unless someone could convince me that the second half of the book was much better than the first that it just wasn't worth my time to finish.'m not saying it's a bad book. So many people wouldn't love it if it were bad. But it really did not work for me.
    more
  • Jason
    April 17, 2011
    I write this review under severe duress.Three-star books are always difficult to review, aren’t they? They are difficult for me, mostly because I am so dispassionate about them. It’s much easier to review something you love, or something you hate, rather than something you’ve half-forgotten before you even get to your local library’s return box.So this book is fine. Fine. It’s the story of a young German girl caught in the path of the advancing Nazi regime during World War II. For many German vi I write this review under severe duress.Three-star books are always difficult to review, aren’t they? They are difficult for me, mostly because I am so dispassionate about them. It’s much easier to review something you love, or something you hate, rather than something you’ve half-forgotten before you even get to your local library’s return box.So this book is fine. Fine. It’s the story of a young German girl caught in the path of the advancing Nazi regime during World War II. For many German villagers in the late 30s and early 40s, the Third Reich was like a quiet glacier, slowly encroaching on their lives—it moved languidly enough that disaster seemed never truly imminent (there is always plenty of time to get out of the way), yet it had enough momentum to churn to pulp anything that was unfortunate enough to meet its frothing jaws.What annoyed me about this book, however, was its distracting style of storytelling. It is told from the point-of-view of the Grim Reaper, the personification of death. I would have actually been okay with this except Death is a grating little sonofabitch. He pretends to keep a distance from the German girl whose story he’s telling, representing himself as a disinterested party whose job is simply to harvest souls from their lifeless hosts, but over time he becomes clearly vested in her story, and for this he is a failure. I mean, if death and taxes are the only two things I can count on, and the IRS is a bullshit government arm that can’t find its asshole with a flashlight, then I need to be able to depend on Death not being a loser.Additionally, I specifically detested the * * * Things That Irritate Me * * *1. These interjections.2. Interjections like these. interjections, which occur frequently in this novel.That said, I think this book is important for its one shining success, which is to remind us that civilian populations of even aggressor countries are innocent victims. Try to keep this in mind the next time your idiot friend says something like, “Dude, we should totally just bomb the fuck out of [insert Middle Eastern country here].”My cousin told me I had to review this book or she would sic the Andover Ladies of Literature on me and I do not wish to scuffle with those broads.
    more
  • Bookdragon Sean
    November 21, 2015
    I devoured this. I read it, then I read it again, and now I want to read it for a third time. I’ve really got to move on, but this was just so Good with a capital G. This book takes such an interesting perspective on what is, in my opinion, an overly written about period of history. Having Death as the narrator for parts of the story really took it to the next level; it made it utterly unique. It also created a sense of detachment from the events, and evoked the message that death is unavoidable I devoured this. I read it, then I read it again, and now I want to read it for a third time. I’ve really got to move on, but this was just so Good with a capital G. This book takes such an interesting perspective on what is, in my opinion, an overly written about period of history. Having Death as the narrator for parts of the story really took it to the next level; it made it utterly unique. It also created a sense of detachment from the events, and evoked the message that death is unavoidable and will eventually come for all. I loved it, and I think the heroine is just superb. A book thieving heroine? Say no more! For me, one of the most important aspects of a well written character is someone I can sympathise with and feel vast quantities of empathy for. So, when the protagonist is in love with reading and appreciates the freedom it can grant, I find myself somewhat immediately won over to her cause. Liesel’s story is woe begotten and tragic yet she always seems to carry on; she always seems to realise that there are good things in this world. And they’re not just books; they’re people too. She doesn’t give up and fall into a pit of self-pity. You’ve got to hand it to her for that. For a young girl she is incredibly strong. She’s written so well; it’s so easy to invest in her story and wish for her to have an ending she deserves. But, death, by its very nature, doesn’t work that way. “A small fact:You are going to die....does this worry you?” Indeed, Death is cold and undiscriminating; he can come at any time and take anyone. I should have known this was going to be a sad one. Death pretty much said so from the start. But one can hope: one can hope that someone who has gone through so much will get a happy ending, though that’s not the point of this book. I’m saddened by the ending, but it was necessary. This book’s impact would have been marginally lessened if the deaths didn’t happen at the end. At least Liesel found some degree of comfort, which lifted the veil of misery somewhat. The ending of this book is precisely what made it so powerful. I wouldn’t want it’s sadness any other way. A fantastic story Liesel is an orphan, and when she was adopted I expected her to have an absolutely terrible time. I expected her adopted parents to be awful. This just seemed like the predictable route this story would take, and I’m glad it didn’t go that way because Liesel learnt the value of human kindness. In the Hubermann household she received warmth and comfort. Hans Hubermann is an excellent man; he is open-hearted and genuine in his affection. He is everything the young orphan needed in a parent, and he is everything that was needed to balance the darkness in the book. He is a true figure of strength and someone who represents the underappreciated resistance to Nazism within Germany during WW2. He refuses to become a member of the political party and even hides a Jew in his basement. He’s a good man, a great man. He is Liesel’s rock and figure of morale guidance. He’s a great character. I know I keep saying that but it is so true. Everything about this book is just brilliant. I think this is such an accomplished story. It takes a lot to write a book like this, and to end it like this. The temptation to end it differently must have been humongous. It’s refreshing to see a modern story actually end how it should rather than the easier route of a happy ending. This certainly won’t be the last book I’ll be reading by Marcus Zusak. An outstanding five stars
    more
  • Whitney Atkinson
    December 18, 2012
    i have no words. never in my life have i sobbed so hard at a book. i had to put my knitting down, then i had to stop the audio book because i was crying too hard. this book is no joke. i was going to give it 4 stars because i thought it was a little too long-winded but truly it is a masterpiece and thank you thank you thank you to everyone that persuaded me to read it.
    more
  • Will Byrnes
    July 30, 2009
    The Book Thief was published as Young Adult novel. Don’t you believe it. This is a wonderful novel, appropriate for adults of young, middle and advanced years. My wife was shedding copious tears as she finished reading the book, and insisted that I read it immediately. How could I not? I was prepared for a moving read and was not disappointed. Sophie Nélisse as Liesel Meminger - from TV GuideThe main character is Liesel Meminger, just shy of ten years old when we first meet her. It is pre-WW II The Book Thief was published as Young Adult novel. Don’t you believe it. This is a wonderful novel, appropriate for adults of young, middle and advanced years. My wife was shedding copious tears as she finished reading the book, and insisted that I read it immediately. How could I not? I was prepared for a moving read and was not disappointed. Sophie Nélisse as Liesel Meminger - from TV GuideThe main character is Liesel Meminger, just shy of ten years old when we first meet her. It is pre-WW II Germany. Her father has been transported for being a “Kommunist.” While en route with her mother and brother, Werner, to be handed over to foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann, her brother dies. At his burial, she retrieves a book dropped by one of the gravediggers, a connection to her brother, and begins her career as a book thief. The Hubermanns live on Himmell (heaven) Street in the town of Molching, outside Munich. Rosa is a coarse, foul-mouthed woman. Hans is a warm, supportive papa. They come to form a very devoted, loving family. The story follows Liesel’s coming of age, meeting other children, particularly her bff Rudy, making friends, seeing reflected in the actions of her peers and the events that occur in the town the horrors of the age. But there is much more to this portrait of a German town than the bullies one expects to grow into the expected abusive stereotypes. There is hope, as well, for those who are dragged into the military against their wishes, for those who harbor fugitive Jews at great personal risk, for those who stand up against the abuse of the weak, for those who share a love of knowledge with those eager to learn. There is sadness, as some cannot live with what they have seen, what they have lost. Nico Liersch as Rudy Steiner - from Imglist.comThe Book Thief is populated with a klatch of wonderful characters. The spirited Liesel will win your heart, as will her friend Rudy, Hans and even Rosa. There are other characters who will also pluck those strings. You will be rooting for this one or that one, cheering victories and weeping at defeats. Having characters one comes to care for is the greatest strength of this book.Over all is an appreciation for words, their power for both good and evil, the magic of language, books as a source of both damnation and salvation. Liesel steals her first book as a way of maintaining a connection with her dead brother. Later, learning to read and continuing to steal books gives her a feeling of power. The impact of Mein Kampf receives much attention as does book burning.Geoffrey Rush as Hans Hubermann - from Aceshowbiz.comZusak uses an unlikely narrator for his tale, Death, who speaks to us as a reporter, an observer of events, not as someone who causes death, but as one who gently carries off the souls of those who have passed. While I have no problem with this device, and while I was charmed by the characterization, I was not convinced that it was entirely necessary. One could have just used a more usual third-party narrative to tell the tale. But it is a fun addition nonetheless. The film retained the narrator and did, IMHO, a pretty good job of capturing the essence of the book.Emily Watson as Rossa Hubermann - from Hypable.comZusak takes a lot of stylistic chances here, from his selection of a narrator to the incorporation of a few illustrated tales within the larger whole. They did not all work, but most did, and I appreciated his willingness to draw outside the lines. Mark ZusakThe Book Thief accomplishes a very lofty goal. It is both intellectually and artistically daring and satisfying while offering up an emotional punch second to none. It will stimulate your brain and it will, at the same time, steal your heart.
    more
  • Walt
    March 19, 2008
    Bravo Zusak! A standing ovation, a mighty opus. You stood Death on her head, removing her dark cloak and scythe, clothing her with feeling and letting us see she has eyes to see and a heart to feel, and the intellect to narrate a compelling story. I was so glad to find out she has a womb. Out of Death comes Life. She has greater aplomb than Nick in telling about Gatsby.In the spring of 1968 at age 19, I made my way to Dachau. I lived just south of Munich and the visit to the defunct concentratio Bravo Zusak! A standing ovation, a mighty opus. You stood Death on her head, removing her dark cloak and scythe, clothing her with feeling and letting us see she has eyes to see and a heart to feel, and the intellect to narrate a compelling story. I was so glad to find out she has a womb. Out of Death comes Life. She has greater aplomb than Nick in telling about Gatsby.In the spring of 1968 at age 19, I made my way to Dachau. I lived just south of Munich and the visit to the defunct concentration camp had a haunting effect upon me that will last until Death comes for me and, I believe, beyond (but eternity’s yet another subject; this story was about life.) I went back to Dachau several times, the souls of the living and the dead calling me. As I worked among Germans in nearby Munich, I was surprised to encounter Jews still, or perhaps again, making their home there, so close to Dachau, so soon after Hitler and his henchmen. These early experiences furnished my life with both angst and vision: with angst to recognize the potential for evil within ever human being and with vision to see the possibility for courage and compassion, to pick up a piece of bread to feed a cipher.And that’s a big part of what The Book Thief does for me: it captures and again reminds me of these viabilities as they play out near Dachau in the heart of World War II’s Nazi Germany in the lives of Liesel and her contemporaries, alive and dead. Death tells Liesel’s tragic yet wonderful story in order to keep memory alive. In the words of Elie Wiesel, “Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.” And surely this is Liesel’s story not Death’s just as Gatsby's isn’t Nick’s. To remind us to stand up wherever tyranny and power put people down.Zusak took the time and effort to invest the narrative with near perfect words and wonderful sentences and great paragraphs and superb chapters. It would have been too cruel and ironic if the “book thief” had found herself betrayed by the words, sentences, and paragraphs of her story’s teller. Flesh fully clothes each character; conflict, action, and suspense oblige the attention of each reader; and the themes are true and consistent throughout, start to finish, and the setting is hauntingly perfect. I hope because of this book I am closer to bending over and picking up some bread to give to a cipher, even if it puts us both at Death’s door.It is a mighty work.
    more
  • Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
    August 26, 2008
    Oh, Book Thief …I first picked up this book when I was 15 years old, after I'd been hearing such glowing reviews of it here on Goodreads. I knew next to nothing about it, besides that everyone seemed to love it so much; I recall seeing a conversation where a bunch of people agreed it was the best Young Adult book ever written. And then I pick it up from the library and it has some review on the front from the New York Times or something claiming this book is "LIFE-CHANGING" or something like tha Oh, Book Thief …I first picked up this book when I was 15 years old, after I'd been hearing such glowing reviews of it here on Goodreads. I knew next to nothing about it, besides that everyone seemed to love it so much; I recall seeing a conversation where a bunch of people agreed it was the best Young Adult book ever written. And then I pick it up from the library and it has some review on the front from the New York Times or something claiming this book is "LIFE-CHANGING" or something like that. So I'm like, "… Damn. Is it really that good?"That first time I read it, it took me only about two or three days. I devoured it, unable to put it down. And when I came to the ending, all I could do was sit there for like half an hour staring at a wall, because I just felt totally numb afterward. I felt utterly shell-shocked. It was just like:I had never read anything quite like it. It amazed me.Unfortunately, at the time I was really crappy at writing reviews, and all I wrote was like, "OMG THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT. IT'S JUST SO GOOOOD. LIKE TOTALLY."And well, I still agree with that statement. But now, I'm going to attempt to say it in a more thought-out and coherent manner. It had been about five years since I read the book for the first time, and I figured it would be a good idea to read it again. I still remembered it all pretty clearly, and I still considered it one of my all-time favorite books even though I'd only read it once. But I still really wanted to experience reading it again.I'm very glad I got around to reading it a second time. This time, I read it much more slowly––and even though I definitely appreciated it the first time, I think I appreciated it even more the second time. First of all, the writing in this book is just beautiful. I … just … Markus Zusak. I can't even. “People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”How … HOW. TEACH ME YOUR WAYS. UGH MARKUS ZUSAK.MARKUS.ZUSAK.Hahahaha look upon my beautiful face as I read from this book that will destroy your soul!Fun fact: if you search for images of Markus Zusak, one of the searches Google suggests is "Markus Zusak shirtless" (also "Markus Zusak muscles"). There aren't really any results for either one. Not that I checked.So yeah, the point is that I love Markus Zusak so much that I hate his guts. And it doesn't help that he's also so attractive. Damn it.Okay, okay. The jokes aside … I love the way this book is written. The choice to have it narrated by Death is quite an interesting one. The first time I read the book, it was a bit confusing to me at first, and it's the type of choice that could have become very gimmicky. Zusak made quite a risky decision there, but ultimately I think it was a great decision. Death's narration somehow manages to be not too overpowering; after all, most of the story is focused on Liesel. But it also is an important factor of the narration that doesn't get forgotten. And then there are the characters … THE CHARACTERS.Can I just get them all together and hug them all?Damn it, I'd even hug Death. I'd hug the shit out of them all.Liesel is such a wonderful and relatable main character. She's by no means a perfect person, which makes her seem like a real young girl. Her love of words is just so tangible and powerful. I think a lot of avid readers can see themselves in her––a girl who would do anything for stories. She's so passionate and smart and sweet and just … ugh. I love her. I don't see how you could read this book and not fall in love with her.Speaking of falling in love … Max. Oh my goodness, Max. I just want to marry that guy. He's so wonderful and such a sweetheart and just … aggh.The friendship between Liesel and Max is so beautifully done, and something that's pretty atypical for a YA book (or for any book, I guess) … I mean, there's like a 10+ year age difference between them or something, and it could have come off as super creepy, but it isn't at all. It's wonderful. (view spoiler)[The little books Max makes for Liesel … GGGAAHH. Also the scene where she sees him getting marched through the streets, and she runs out to him … OH MY GODDDD. And at the very end where they're like the only people left alive, and they meet each other years later and they just hug each other and cry … Arrrgh, my heart. (hide spoiler)]Oh, and of course there's Rudy. AAAAAHHHhhhh Rudy. He's so freaking adorable and awesome. And … I don't even know what else I can say. Words can't describe my love for that kid.(view spoiler)[His death at the end is pretty much the saddest thing in history. I can't think about it without almost crying. I just can't handle it. And you know, about halfway through the book, Death actually tells the reader that Rudy is going to die at the end … and it's still absolutely heartbreaking when it happens. AGH. (hide spoiler)]And Hans! Hans Hubermann! Hans with his accordion and his wonderfulness. He's like my favorite literary dad ever (besides maybe Atticus Finch). The relationship between Hans and Liesel is so adorable. Ahhh … I have no words. A TYPICAL HANS HUBERMANN ARTWORK:[Insert silly illustration of a stick-figure girl with a huge smile and no eyes.]Liesel: Papa! I have no eyes!Hans: With a smile like that, you don't need eyes.(view spoiler)[You know, I can't decide what makes me sadder … Rudy dying or Hans dying. Well, who am I kidding. They're both equally sad. (hide spoiler)]Okay, I could continue listing every single character in the book and talking about how wonderful they are, and how the characterization of every single one of them is so amazing and wonderful, so that you feel like you live in the same neighborhood as all of them, and yada yada … but I'll just stop there. Basically, the characters in this book are just phenomenal. Over all, the book just has such a powerful message about how storytelling is what helps us cope with the worst of times––and obviously, the Holocaust was one of the most terrifying periods of history. Although I have certainly never experienced something so traumatic, the book still strikes a personal chord with me––just because it really conveys how books and words are so powerful, and how they can save people's lives. (view spoiler)[I mean, Liesel's life is literally saved because of words at the end, since she's writing in the basement when the bombings happen. It's just … UGGGH. (hide spoiler)]So … I don't know what else there is to say. After reading this a second time, I can still say that this is one of my favorite books ever. It's just stunning and astounding and beautiful, and I don't even know how to express my adoration of it. As an aspiring YA author, I can only hope that someday I'll be able to write a YA book this amazing. And I can't thank Markus Zusak enough for writing it. One little side note:There's a movie coming out next year! And I'm super excited. I haven't heard much news about it, but Liesel has been cast. She will be played by a young French actress named Sophie Nélisse … who I think has only been in one other (French) movie, so I guess at this point it's difficult to judge her acting ability. However, I think I'm already in love with her, because JUST LOOK HOW CUTE SHE IS. AWWW.… Okay, that's all.(Update: Yaaaay the trailer came out! I'M SO EXCITEDDDD.)
    more
  • Michael Kneeland
    July 4, 2008
    Occasionally, you will read a novel that offers you new ideas about what a novel can actually do, how point of view and voice can be used differently but powerfully, and how characters can be developed to such an extent that they seem more human than those we come into contact with each day. This seems to be the case with Markus Zusak's 2005 novel, The Book Thief. I first read it on a recommendation from a librarian friend, and now find myself talking about it at great length to anyone who will Occasionally, you will read a novel that offers you new ideas about what a novel can actually do, how point of view and voice can be used differently but powerfully, and how characters can be developed to such an extent that they seem more human than those we come into contact with each day. This seems to be the case with Markus Zusak's 2005 novel, The Book Thief. I first read it on a recommendation from a librarian friend, and now find myself talking about it at great length to anyone who will listen (if you listen closely, you can hear my students start to groan...until they start reading it, that is). With any luck, I'll get it on my reading list at the school I teach at by next year. It's that kind of good.The novel centers around the experiences of a young girl in World War II-era Germany. Contrary to my initial prediction, the girl, Liesel, is not Jewish but instead the orphaned daughter of two communist parents who were ostensibly murdered when finally caught by the Nazis. In any event, they never appear, which becomes painfully obvious during one particularly heartwrenching episode. Liesel spends most of the novel in the home of two poor but well-meaning foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who are patriotic enough not to be arrested, but dissenting enough that Hans has been refused admission to the Nazi party. Thus, through Liesel and the Hubermanns, we get a point of view of Nazi Germany to which we're not readily accustomed: not of the depraved and defiled victims of the Holocaust, nor of the gung-ho fundamentalist "Heil-Hiterl!"ing-every-five-seconds Nazis; but instead of those we rarely if ever hear from, those caught in the uncomfortable and inescapable middle.Oh, and the narrator.Zusak manages (ingeniously, I should add) to blend first- and third-person omniscient narrators by making his Death (with a capital "D," as in the Grim Reaper), an intriguing if not entirely surprising choice given the novel's setting. Through Death, we not only get Liesel's thoughts, feelings, and actions ( as well as those of the others who come into the tale on occasion) but also his own: we get to see just how much he hates his job and yet simultaneously sees the necessity of it; we see how he reacts when he comes to collect his quarry (positively tear inducing, as in a sequence near the beginning when he describes what it was like to have to collect the small, limp, and sickly body of Liesel's younger brother); and we get to know some of his curious personality traits (would you ever think that Death would be obsessed with--of all things!--colors?). Zusak's choice of narrator is at once utterly risky and entirely genious--after all, we could have been stuck with a morose and altogether boring narrator. Instead, we have a perfectly round character who seamlessly melds the first- and third-person point of view.Novelists can have a nasty tendency to develop one or two main characters and leave the rest flat and uninteresting (case in point: essentially anything by the Clive Cussler's and Jackie Collins' of the contemporary scene--they fail to realize that people, not just plot, are interesting; unfortunately, many readers these days fail to realize this too). Zusak seems to suppress this urge however and manages to give us an entire cast of characters--including primary, secondary, and even tertiary characters--who are all very round and therefore very interesting. Take, for instance, the hunched-over old man named Pfiffikus, who at first seems to just be a cranky, foul-mouthed old codger but who we eventually find to be genuinely proud of his heritage. Then there is the Mayor's wide, who appears at first to be a paper-thin cutout of a character until we learn the reason for her projected flatness of character. And we could also discuss Tommy Mueller, a boy from the Hubermann's street who had so many ear infections (and operations on these ear infections) as a younger child that he has since been left with scars and an ever-present twitch.Think that's a lot of information about a few characters? Here's the kicker: Pfiffikus, the Mayor's wife, and Tommy Mueller are not even main characters! But they were developed believably and interestingly enough so it seems they are, or should be.This does not by any means imply that the main characters are boring stereotypes: they, too, are strikingly believable, and when the novel is finished, you genuinely feel as though they are people you know (or knew) from your own experiences. That is one of the most glorious aspects of this novel and--when it topples over its devastating denouement--one of the most tragic.I have gone to great pains in this review to avoid giving away too much of the plot because seeing what unfolds for these people you feel you know is another of the novel's glorious aspects. However, the plot is perhaps the weakest link in the novel's chain. The book is by no means predictable, but the only really eye-opening and fist-slamming-on-the-table event comes at the novel's aforementioned denouement. The rest of the plot does seem to drag a bit in places, but I suppose this comes naturally in the balance when you have such juicy and unforgettable characterization. Actually, that the plot is as good as it is with fantastic characterization like we are presented with is something of a miracle.In the years to come, this novel will rest on top of professors' shelves and "Best" lists alongside the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Great Expectations. Certainly, you will be hard pressed to find a novel of this caliber much of anywhere on the current scene. Do yourself a favor: eschew The Book Thief's "YA" label and read it like the classic novel is already stands out as.
    more
  • Candace
    November 11, 2016
    This was one of those books that has been sitting on my TBR list forever. Finally, I decided to give it a go. Although it isn't my usual type of book, I found it to be a beautiful story.'The Book Thief' tells the story of a young girl, Liesel, growing up in Germany during WWII. After the death of her brother, she is put into foster care by her mother. Unlikely as it may seem, she goes on to form a close relationship with her foster father as she grows up in a nation inundated by the Nazi regime. This was one of those books that has been sitting on my TBR list forever. Finally, I decided to give it a go. Although it isn't my usual type of book, I found it to be a beautiful story.'The Book Thief' tells the story of a young girl, Liesel, growing up in Germany during WWII. After the death of her brother, she is put into foster care by her mother. Unlikely as it may seem, she goes on to form a close relationship with her foster father as she grows up in a nation inundated by the Nazi regime.Along the way, Liesel forms a friendship with a neighborhood boy, Rudy Steiner. She falls in love with books and takes to stealing during that trying time. In so many ways, her childhood mirrored any other "normal" happy childhood. However, the over-bearing presence of Hitler's Nazi influence loomed in the background. The fear and lack of control felt by Liesel and her community was palpable.When her foster parents choose to hide a Jewish man, Max Vandenburg, in their basement, Liesel's story becomes even more complicated. There is no denying the brutal reality of life under the Nazi regime. I held my breath, waiting for their secret to be discovered.While some parts of the story were predictable, given that we all know how WWII ended, other elements of this story surprised me. I had put off reading this story for quite some time because I expected it to be rather bleak. While there were some depressing, gloomy topics that were addressed, I was glad to find that the book did not take on that vibe entirely. Mostly, I found the story to be enlightening and inspirational.Overall, this was a fabulous book. I can see it becoming a standard "required reading" book for school-aged children. It's definitely one that I'll have my daughters read. This was a beautiful story that should serve as a cautionary tale and a reminder to us all.
    more
  • Diane
    October 9, 2008
    I hated this book. There is so much I disliked about it that I'm not sure where to begin. I recognize that I am in the minority on this one and that many of my GR friends loved this novel, so there's no need to start screaming at me in the comments. This book just wasn't my cuppa, and that's OK. We're allowed to like different books.My ListI think the thing I hated the most was the writing itself. The sentences were rough, uneven and felt unfinished. I hated that even though the sentences and ch I hated this book. There is so much I disliked about it that I'm not sure where to begin. I recognize that I am in the minority on this one and that many of my GR friends loved this novel, so there's no need to start screaming at me in the comments. This book just wasn't my cuppa, and that's OK. We're allowed to like different books.My ListI think the thing I hated the most was the writing itself. The sentences were rough, uneven and felt unfinished. I hated that even though the sentences and chapters were short and choppy, the book was 550 pages long! Two hundred pages could have been cut from this sucker, easily.I hated how Zusak wrote the narrator Death, and how Death was constantly foreshadowing things. Dude, I get it, you're omniscient. I hated that Zusak chose to put his cliched story about a girl who likes books against the backdrop of the Holocaust. It seemed like the author was milking a tragedy to try and make his book seem deeper than it is.I hated that every scene was precious, oh so schmaltzy and precious! I hated that the characters were all two-dimensional and none of them seemed real. They were just a collection of anecdotes.I hated that the entire book felt like a pretentious writing exercise by some smarmy grad student.This is the second YA novel that I've hated this year, and I'm taking a break from the genre. I don't need books that are dumbed down. I like complex stories and characters, and beautiful writing that makes me want to underline passages. There wasn't a single sentence in The Book Thief that made me pause and appreciate its construction. Not one.
    more
  • Archit Ojha
    April 4, 2016
    I don't usually write reviews, in fact this is my first on goodreads. This is a memoir of my connection to this book.My wife (yes I call my girlfriend my wife, so is the bond) gave this to me.We have a habit of gifting each other books. This was one of such events. Yet, it was so different. She warned me not to read To Kill A Mockingbird and I had a hunch that she is going to present it to me.The book she also added in the package happened to be The Book Thief. She said that she is giving her he I don't usually write reviews, in fact this is my first on goodreads. This is a memoir of my connection to this book.My wife (yes I call my girlfriend my wife, so is the bond) gave this to me.We have a habit of gifting each other books. This was one of such events. Yet, it was so different. She warned me not to read To Kill A Mockingbird and I had a hunch that she is going to present it to me.The book she also added in the package happened to be The Book Thief. She said that she is giving her heart to me. And upon reading it, it was aptly so.This book is a heartwarming tale of people in hardships, who find happiness in small little corners of life. Rudy, who lived a short yet a conquering life. Liesel, the protagonist who understood things so well. Perhaps this why my wife had so big an impact of Markus Zusak's creation of this fictitious character. I asked my wife on a blind date and the first day all we talked about was how can I not have read the book?Yes, how could I have not? I have read quite a humongous volume of books and I missed this one. The reason was because my wife had to gift this to me. I called her chapter after chapter, sharing the feelings and jitters and nightmares that I shared with Liesel and Max. I was catapulted to the WWII era of bombings and counting every single heartbeat just in case I was wiped away by one bomb.I am glad my wife listened patiently to each of these fears, soothed me on every occasion like she always does. The Hubermanns had a touching sense about them. The story to us is not heartbreaking but heartwarming.The moment Max came out of his hiding, just to watch the sky he has not seen in months, whilst others crouched fearing for their lives : that moved me. The chord that my wife wanted to strike with me had found its mark. I called her and cried and described what it feels like to remain in a room filled with your own thoughts. All that she said was nothing. She understood. She always does.She told me in the end one thing very cheerfully that summarizes the entire book for both of us. The line was "This book stands a cornerstone in my life because you read it. And with you I read."I told you, this is not a review. It is just a recollection of our memories associated with this book.Many books will come and many books will find a place in our bookshelves over the years. But this book gets the best place in our hearts.
    more
  • Ana
    October 20, 2015
    {BR with Nicole} “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.” These pictures are self explanatory.There are no words good enough to d {BR with Nicole} “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.” These pictures are self explanatory.There are no words good enough to describe the beauty of this book. Beautifully written, mesmerizing characters, great storytelling. And in one of those rare instances, the book more than lived up to the hype. I wept. I wept for Liesel, Hans, Rudy, Max, Rosa, and I wept for the people of Himmel Street. But most of all I wept because of the undeniable injustice inflicted upon the Jewish people. But I also feel resentment towards Markus Zusak. How am I supposed to go back to reading cheesy romance novels after this? He may have ruined me for any other author. I have to get my emotions under control before I write a coherent analysis of the book. All of the stars.
    more
  • Lyn
    June 8, 2013
    Very good.Having Death as the narrator and having as a central protagonist a young girl in Nazi Germany make The Book Thief by Markus Zusak stand out from the crowd of books about Europe during World War II; this book is good not so much because of the story, but how the author tells it. In the Book Thief, Zusak uses a rich, multi-layered blend of allegory, metaphor and symbolism to create amidst the dirt and depression of Germany during the late 30s and 40s a stark vision of historical and phil Very good.Having Death as the narrator and having as a central protagonist a young girl in Nazi Germany make The Book Thief by Markus Zusak stand out from the crowd of books about Europe during World War II; this book is good not so much because of the story, but how the author tells it. In the Book Thief, Zusak uses a rich, multi-layered blend of allegory, metaphor and symbolism to create amidst the dirt and depression of Germany during the late 30s and 40s a stark vision of historical and philosophical thoughtfulness. This international best seller features a healthy sense of dramatic irony, with the German setting and the strong use of script-like construction becoming reminiscent, vaguely, of Bertold Brecht, especially the sympathetic depiction of Marxists. By using a surreal personification as a narrator, the author has softened the blow of the harsh setting and thus, incredibly, makes the characters more accessible and makes the reader approach an empathy with them that may otherwise be unavailable. I am reminded of Anthony Burgess’ comments about A Clockwork Orange and how he created the Nadsat language not just to add depth to his narration, but also to minimize the brutality of his story. In much the same way, Zusak has used Death as a narrator to ironically assuage the viciousness of the everyday life that Liesel and the Hubermanns experience in their quiet section of Nazi extremism.Death is not just a narrator but also one of the characters. Telling a story from his vantage, about a group of Germans on Himmel (Heaven) Street amidst the moral flagellation of the Third Reich Zusak creates a fecundity of symbolic structure. I found myself getting lost in metaphoric possibilities. What did he mean by that? What could that symbolize? Yet the author does not over generalize or make universal declarations, his approach is far more subtle, and again Brechtian in it’s demystification for dramatic realism; the reader comes to know Liesel Meminger, not as an ultra-real snapshot, nor as a idealized German everygirl, but as an actress in a play, knowable and probable, but still a dramatic portrayal. Through the eyes of Death, Liesel enters from stage left and we follow her through stereotypical misadventures made hackneyed in the World War II genre, but also through the good, the bad, and the ugly that is histrionic enough to be believable and understandable as an expression of real life during Nazi Germany. This is still, though, after all, a representative portrayal of an ugly time. The reader should not look for a Disney moment, there are few. Zusak peppers his chronicle with some scenes of comic relief, but he never lets you forget when and where the action takes place. Expectations of Hollywood commercial breaks will come and go unnoticed on this trip; and all to the credit of its creator, who has crafted that most rare of accomplishments: a commercial success and at the same time an artistic expression.A very singular literary experience and an enjoyable journey with a young writer from whom we have much to expect.
    more
  • Komal Mikaelson
    May 16, 2013
    *Starts review. Write two lines. Erase the whole thing.**Starts again. No idea what to write**Wiping tears**Staring at the laptop screen, fingers resting on the keys.**Should I even write a review?**Where's the damn tissue?**I should totally write one. If I can write a snarky one, I can sure as hell write a gushing one**What would be the point, everyone has already read the book.**Does it matter? It's about me and the book masterpiece.*So, that has been my thought process for the last 15 min. So *Starts review. Write two lines. Erase the whole thing.**Starts again. No idea what to write**Wiping tears**Staring at the laptop screen, fingers resting on the keys.**Should I even write a review?**Where's the damn tissue?**I should totally write one. If I can write a snarky one, I can sure as hell write a gushing one**What would be the point, everyone has already read the book.**Does it matter? It's about me and the book masterpiece.*So, that has been my thought process for the last 15 min. So, bear with my incoherent rambling.All of you are aware about the scenario of the book. For those of you, who aren't: Holocaust. Heil Hitler. Germany. 1939-1945. Concentration camps. Air raids. Jews. Enough said. So, I won't even go into the synopsis.This book is oddly reminiscent of The Fault in Our Stars. And it's more than the veritable feels they evoke.I wish it were just that. Because then, I could easily blame nature for condemning us to a life-threatening disease, and we would be free of all blame. Hoo-fucking-ray. Here, I can't absolve mankind for inflicting such egregious pain, cruelty and horror on its own specie. Because it's us who are fucking responsible for the whole mess On a superficial level, we can say, the similarities would be: The feelings they evoke. It's the broken hearts trailing behind. It's the tears cascading down your face.But it's not even that.Let's be frank here. We all cried when Dumbledore died. We did. We wailed, we sniffled and cursed Snape to the deepest pits of hell.As devastating as that was, as much as we felt for Harry, it still isn't the same.Because when I completed The Fault in Our Stars and now, The Book Thief , I couldn't help but feel like a naive, little girl, inexperienced with the ways of world. Incognizant of crushing grief. Blissfully unaware of moments altering lives forever and leaving behind people, reeling from the change, gasping in their wake. It's like rudely being awakened to the realities of the world, by being drenched in stone-cold water or thrown headlong down a cliff.Abrupt. Unanticipated. Scary. That was what it was like.Brilliant. Magnificent. A Masterpiece. Liesel Meminger The titular book thief. The girl with dollops of courage and pertinacious spirit, who experienced more tribulations and torment than people do in their entire lives. The girl who didn't break and cursed life after going through what she did.The girl who loved and hated words.She's right up there with Katniss in my respected-protagonists listI won't go into other characters. Because I don't have anything more to add that hasn't already been said.Suffice to say: they were all, and I mean everyone, incredible.Mr. Zusak definitely shows the ugly side of war. But, he shows the human-ness of it too.Of how, people in the face of adversity, still hold on to their humanity tenaciously.Of how people astound Death himself.Of how people still hope, when the cruel world gives them more reasons to hate, to burn, to shatter. Of how living is more than just existing. It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on. The book was a poignant, agonizing account of one of the saddest period on Earth, told by Death himself (I kept imagining him as Morgan Freeman. I don't know why) And you've gotta read it because when Death tells a story, you really have to listen!The writing was phenomenal. It's not terrifying like the build-up before 50 feet drop in a roller coaster. It's not astounding like the rug pulled from your feet. Because we all know, it's a WW2 story, deaths are bound to happen. But that doesn't lessen the blow. In fact, the casual slipping in of the death of your favorite characters, makes you appreciate things as they are right now. Just when you'd heave a sigh of relief that no one is dying today, something happens, and you are left breathless. Just one tiny little complain I have already established, I have no patience at all. And this is one long book. Don't get me wrong, it is amazing, but really, really long. The Part I Loved The Best The epilogue. That part literally made me smile through my tears. The happiness, the joy coursing through me at that point was incredible. I was so proud of Liesel! Go, girl. Other Great Parts Accordion. Words. Lemon-like hair. Basements. Candies. Apples. Jesse Owens. A much anticipated kiss. Haunted by humans. Honesty. Fistfights. Swearing. Living. Writing. Goodbyes. Library. Dominos. Candles.Conclusion, in words of Mr. Zusak himself:I'm leaving you with a quote that shredded my heartwith it's raw honesty and palpable bitterness. I don't want to hope for anything anymore. I don't want to pray that Max in alive and safe. Or Alex Steiner. Because the world does not deserve them.
    more
  • Megs ♥
    October 17, 2011
    Since there are already so many wonderful reviews for this book I'm going to keep this one kind of short. Most of my friends have already read this book, and may be wondering what little old me could possibly add to the endless stream of praise surrounding this book.Well, I represent the people who have yet to read this book even though it's been out for almost 6 years, and won quite a few awards. Those of us who never read it despite receiving about 6,532 recommendations claiming "You will love Since there are already so many wonderful reviews for this book I'm going to keep this one kind of short. Most of my friends have already read this book, and may be wondering what little old me could possibly add to the endless stream of praise surrounding this book.Well, I represent the people who have yet to read this book even though it's been out for almost 6 years, and won quite a few awards. Those of us who never read it despite receiving about 6,532 recommendations claiming "You will love this!!" Each of us may have our own reasons to have never given this book a try and mine is simple. I see"World War II" or basically anything history related and think I won't like it. Yes I have never quite gotten over those years of falling asleep in history class. It just was never my thing.I'm here to tell all of the other naysayers to give this book a shot. This book is phenomenal.I'm not going to summarize this book because a.) I'm sure everyone already knows what it's about and b.) This little one line synopsis is simply brilliant: 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. . . .Once you start reading this book you will definitely not want to put it down. The story instantly travels you back to the time of WWII and holds your attention the whole way through. This book has a little bit of something for everyone. At some points it's haunting, some parts are extremely funny, and then of course there is the unbearably sad and heartbreaking parts as well. You will feel a wide range of emotions reading this.Great writing, engaging plot, interesting characters that will capture your heart. The narration is amazing and very original. Truly eye-opening and thought provoking.5/5 Recommend to everyone who has not read it.
    more
  • Tran Thanh Tu
    February 15, 2017
    I should have realised, and acknowledged beforehand that, historical fiction books don't have happy endings. In fact, it's the complete opposite.This book, heart-rending as it is, deserves to be hailed as one of the greatest books of the world history. Indeed, I would, by all means, recommend it to everyone with a mind of curiosity and hunger for knowledge. This book will help you understand how cruel and evil humans can be because as far as I'm concerned, wars are born because of the misunderst I should have realised, and acknowledged beforehand that, historical fiction books don't have happy endings. In fact, it's the complete opposite.This book, heart-rending as it is, deserves to be hailed as one of the greatest books of the world history. Indeed, I would, by all means, recommend it to everyone with a mind of curiosity and hunger for knowledge. This book will help you understand how cruel and evil humans can be because as far as I'm concerned, wars are born because of the misunderstanding between us people living in different countries.So please, just please, don't ever let this disastrous, destructive thing called war happen again, not anytime soon, not EVER. It is just unbearable and impossible for the human kind to remain their existence.
    more
  • Rohisa
    November 5, 2011
    Updating Review.Who knew Death can be such an eloquent writer.Who Knew Death can be a reliable narratorWho knew Death can be warm, fuzzy and heartbreakingly earnest.Who knew Death was capable of saying thought provoking yet profound words like “I am haunted by Humans”. The story is one of the oldest ones told. The narrator is mankind's friend/nemesis, Death, ancient as Time itself.And the scenes Death (not without compassion and not without wry humor) narrates for us are those of human sufferin Updating Review.Who knew Death can be such an eloquent writer.Who Knew Death can be a reliable narratorWho knew Death can be warm, fuzzy and heartbreakingly earnest.Who knew Death was capable of saying thought provoking yet profound words like “I am haunted by Humans”. The story is one of the oldest ones told. The narrator is mankind's friend/nemesis, Death, ancient as Time itself.And the scenes Death (not without compassion and not without wry humor) narrates for us are those of human suffering and endurance.A story of love pitted against hate, Of the victory of the best in all of us over the worst in any of us.Death touches us all, but Liesel Meminger manages to touch Death with her shining humanity and the words of her young life, penned in the basement of a poor home, where she survives a devastating bombing of her neighborhood in Nazi Germany. Death holds her luminous grief and happiness in his pocket in the form of a black book containing her young life's autobiography, found by Him, forgotten by her, in the time of her greatest shock and horror.When Death gathers our souls, we can embrace Him in celebration of life; when The Book Thief ends, its sadness is wholly tempered by the joy of reading it.
    more
  • martha
    March 26, 2008
    Everyone in the whole world seems to adore this book and yet I hate it SO MUCH. The writing style is just SO grating; it took me forever to figure out why, but I think in large part it's because it's 100% telling-without-showing. See, the premise is awesome -- a book set in Germany during WWII, narrated by Death, focusing on the life of one civilian German girl. But Death(/the author) just tells you what everyone's feeling or doing, so the characters are like flat automatons. There's no depth or Everyone in the whole world seems to adore this book and yet I hate it SO MUCH. The writing style is just SO grating; it took me forever to figure out why, but I think in large part it's because it's 100% telling-without-showing. See, the premise is awesome -- a book set in Germany during WWII, narrated by Death, focusing on the life of one civilian German girl. But Death(/the author) just tells you what everyone's feeling or doing, so the characters are like flat automatons. There's no depth or pathos, in what should be a really fascinating story. Further, the narrator doesn't so much foreshadow as tell you everything that's going to happen, eliminating any suspense. Plus the tone is just annoying; kind of condescending and precious.And in lots of places the writing is just *bad* -- tons of passive voice ("two giant words were struggled with, carried on her shoulder, and dropped as a bungling pair at Ilsa Hermann's feet"), and it tries way too hard to be literary and deep and often just ends up being awkward and clunky.It's a shame this falls so flat for me, when there's so much awesome YA Holocaust literature out there -- The Devil's Arithmetic, Number the Stars, The Diary of Anne Frank and more. Or if you want a book about bombing in Germany, read Slaughterhouse V.I can't even finish it, and I ALWAYS finish books I'm more than halfway through; maybe I'll come back someday, but all my previous attempts have ended in gnashing of teeth. It leaves such a bad taste in my mouth.
    more
  • Fabian
    June 1, 2015
    The most impressive of its assets is shared by many other historical fictions. Its retention of the super sad events at times, solely to divert attention from such baffling horror. This, for a Young Adult novel, hits many nails right on the head. Its inventive narration and its somewhat flash fiction demeanor make it altogether lovable. Endearing. Really, a must. A novel I'd want my own kid to read!!
    more
Write a review