The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: review

19063The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Stand Alone
My Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 14th 2006
Synopsis: The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

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

My Thoughts:

I’m writing this review in the middle of the night (I wonder what colors Death would be seeing right now…) and with tear-stained cheeks and with the last line of The Book Thief echoing in my mind: “I am haunted by humans.” A last line that is as ironic as it is powerful. I was struck speechless by that line, but now that I have recovered a bit, I can say with all the sureness in the world that I am haunted, and will probably keep being haunted for a very, very long time, by The Book Thief.

Now, I assure you that being haunted by The Book Thief is a burden that is as heavy as it is to being haunted by the entire human race, but being haunted by the memory of this masterpiece of a book can be a little wrenching. (Though, it can also be a whole lot rewarding. In fact, I urge you to go read this book and get haunted by it!) The characters and their struggles and their triumphs will stay with you, the narrator and his melancholy and his exhaustion will stay with you, all the emotions that you experienced awhile reading the book will stay with you, and the story, which is brilliantly and intelligently told, will stay with you.

The perfect choice of narrator is the part of The Book Thief that immediately made my heart get tied up by the story. Death is an ironic being, haunted by humans and exhausted from watching them tear one another down, even when humans are the ones believing themselves to be haunted by Death. This ironic being is an incredible narrator who perfectly fits the story. Death’s narration had me engaged at the very first page and told a story that could only be told in a way that Death could tell it. And really, I couldn’t help but be lulled and comforted by his words.

eightbullets:The Book Thief, Mark Zusak.

Death’s story is about Liesel Meminger, a German girl with a love for words so strong that she is willing to steal the books where they reside, and her life during a time of war. Liesel is a strong child who observes and looks at the world with wonder. She is the one whose story is told in The Book Thief. But, since Liesel meets many people over the course of her childhood, other characters do get caught up in her story. Liesel’s cigarette-smoking and accordion player foster father named Hans, foul-mouthed and tough foster mother named Rosa, adventurous and daring best friend named Rudy, the fist-fighter Jew hiding in their basement named Max, the mayor’s quiet wife, and many of the other people living on Himmel Street.

Liesel’s relationships with these characters and the characters themselves are complex and intricately written. Every interaction is important and is tied into the story with skill. I especially loved Liesel’s strong friendships with Rudy and Max and her caring relationship with her foster father. Rudy and Liesel were an amazing pair and their eventual love story was pure, innocent, powerful, and painful. Chasing books down rivers and stealing food were never made so sweet. Max and Liesel’s friendship was beautiful and full of impact. The painting of images on the basement walls and exchanging of stories stories squeezed my heart. The daughter-father relationship between Liesel and Hans was lovely. The parts of the book in which the two rolled cigarettes and listened to the accordion were some of the greatest parts of the novel for me.

The prose in The Book Thief is experimental and unique, and I absolutely loved it. Death’s way of describing things, specifically the weather and colors, was gorgeous and really added to the already melancholy atmosphere of the book. Emotions were flawlessly sketches with words. Zusak’s writing in this book is superb.

“The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places, it burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked across the redness.”

One last thing that I think should absolutely must be said: The Book Thief isn’t about the suffering the Jew’s had to endure during the time where Hitler ruled. The Book Thief focuses on the lives of the Germans, which I think was an excellent decision for Zusak to make. Readers get the opportunity to see how people couldn’t go against Hitler’s beliefs without being beaten to the ground and how morality was a complicated thing back then and that many people were just doing what they could to get by, without anything being preached to them. Zusak doesn’t tell you what to think, he merely shows you what happened.

The Book Thief is an unforgettable piece of literature that, like I have said in the first paragraph of this review, will haunt me. Zusak said in an interview (that I really recommend you watch) that he didn’t set out to write a Young Adult book, he set out to write someone’s favorite book. I reply to his saying that with this: Markus Zusak, you have written a favorite book of mine.

*Images were found on I Am Haunted By Humans, a Tumblr site dedicated to this book.


29 thoughts on “The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: review

  1. Pingback: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: review | Slanted Thoughts

  2. Yes! So glad you loved this one! I agree with everything. Death was a perfect narrator, Liesel’s relationships with those around her was fascinating, and it has beautiful writing. It’s one of my favorite books as well! Great review 🙂

    • Death, Liesel, Liesel’s relationships with those around her, and the beautiful writing. All these things were just too beautiful! The Book Thief is a story that will be a favorite of mind for a long, long time (if not for forever 😛 ).

      Thank you!

  3. Lottie, that was an utterly beautiful review. Honestly, one of the best reviews I’ve EVER read in my whole life. You just described everything so genuinely, with such passion. And I’m so glad you loved the book!

    -Grace 🙂

    P.S. THERE’S A MOVIE? Oh Lord how did I not know that? I just finished watching the trailer, and it was so beautiful, my eyes starting tearing a bit towards the end. Well, lets just hope it does the book justice. I wish all of us Goodreads friends that read The Book Thief and loved it could just all watch the movie together!

    • *dies from happiness* You saying this just squeezes my heart. It really does, Grace ❤ Thank you so much! And yup, there's a movie! I can't wait to see it. And it would be amazing if all us GR friends could see it together. Seriously. It would be amazing.

  4. ✧・゚:*✧・゚:* \(◕△◕✿)/ *:・゚✧*:・゚✧
    Your review. YESSS. YESSSS. ( ;´Д`)This is such a sad story and I am so happy you got to capture every little bitty beautifulness of this story because oh, feels. All em feels. And I just can’t say anything. You have said all that is needed to say.

    P.S. Yes Tsuritama is the fishing anime and is so flipping adorable I can just die from how adorable Haru is. >____< So adorable. Go watch it…please? ~(◠‿◕✿)

    • Okay, I’m seriously in love with this comment right here. It’s so passionate and adorable ❤ I am so glad that you think I was able to capture the beautifulness of this story 😛 And yeah, a whole ton of feels!

      P.S. Just watched the first episode! You're right, the anime is super adorable!

  5. This is a book I reallllllly need to get to. It seems like everyone has read it except me. I didn’t even know it was an emotional story but that definitely makes me want to read it even more 🙂

  6. Everyone keeps saying that this is a powerful book and I want to think the same, but I kind of abandoned it a few days ago. Not forever, obviously, but I wanted to read another book (bad me!). I’m starting it again today. I really like the narration, though.

    And I love the pictures with the quotes! Especially “I am haunted by humans”.

    • Aw! I can sort of see why you would want to take a break from this book, though. I hope that you will be able to enjoy The Book Thief after your break from it! I do think it is a powerful book, so hopefully you will be in the right mood next time? But even if you don’t feel the same way as everyone else, I can not wait to hear your thoughts! (Different opinions are what make the world interesting, after all.)

      I love the pictures with the quotes, too. When I saw them, I just knew that I would have to include them in my review!

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  8. Pingback: Bloggin’ Recap | The Day Dreaming, Candy Eating, Red Headed Bookworm

  9. I think this book was the hardest to write a review about it and I gave up the attempt. I do have a thing on my blog about it, but boy, how do you review something that is so beautiful? This is one of my favorite books and I’ve re-read it a couple of times now. I fall in love with it every time.


    • Writing a review for this book was one of the hardest things I have ever done… I kept writing something down and then deleting it and then writing something else and then deleting that. Reviewing something beautiful like The Book Thief is definitely a hard thing to do. I can not wait to reread The Book Thief before the movie comes out 🙂

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