Friday, December 17, 2010

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.

This is a magnificent story about the power of words set in Nazi Germany, where Death tells the tale of a little girl who started an affair with books that eventually saved her life.

The writing is rich and Zusak toys with the words like only the best authors do; those that write for the joy of doing so. He painted the book like you paint an artwork, but with the use of words alone. The story flows easily and the plot is ingenious while being very simple. It stretches on four years, from the moment Liesel Memminger meets her foster family until the 'end of the world' arrives. This book is filled with feelings. The reader can definitively not ignore them.

The characters are true and it is hard to let go of them. You do not love them at first sight. You grow to love them, and I think that is what makes them such good, strong and willing characters. What I loved the most about The Book Thief was of how the narrator was Death. It fits, I think, for after all, the World War II was all about death, and death had become man's best friend. But in this book, instead of having a cruel and merciless picture of the end itself, Death is afraid of humans, and is described in almost a gentle way. It makes me want to believe that when I die, it is this Death that I shall meet.

Zusak offers the reader a different perspective on Nazi Germany, one where more than one person despises Hitler and his doings, and where children see Hitler's Youth as boring. It never occurred to me that German children could see Hitler's Youth as boring, or even have the opportunity to think so. But here you have Rudy defying his Hitler's Youth leaders and Liesiel adopting the uncanny hobby of book stealing.

This book is truly beautiful, and on the way to become a classic. It is a must-read that you should have on your shelf.


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Rating: 9,8/10


  1. I've now read this book twice and loved it each time. You should check out his other novel I Am Messenger, which just blew me away.


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