The Book Thief – Markus Zusak



“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.”

My Thoughts – 8/10

The Book Thief more than deserves all the awards it has won. Unlike many novels, The Book Thief does not rely on suspense to draw in the reader. Quite often, the narrator reveals large components of the future plot (normally considered spoilers) to allow the reader to delve deeply into how the events unfold rather than focus on what events unfold. Don’t be mistaken, however. This circular way of telling the story in no way detracts from the emotional quality of the story. Actually, this style allowed me to understand the characters more and become more invested in them. Literature teachers have always taught me that to not just tell the story but show it. Zusak has perfected this art in The Book Thief.

Of course, the most unique aspect of the book is that it is narrated by Death. In contrast to the cold, intimidating Death that is usually portrayed in movies, novels and other forms of pop culture, Zusak’s Death is tired of his unending job and, frankly, scared of the destruction that humans can cause. Death tells the story of the book thief not only for the reader but also to convince himself that humans do have redeeming qualities. One of my favorite aspects of the style are Death’s asides that contain either his thoughts or notes that relate to the current event.

The Book Thief not only engaged my mind with is multiple layers and unique style but also led my emotions on a roller coaster ride. It is not possible to unearth all the facets of this novel in one reading. Although it isn’t a dense read, it demands contemplation.


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