Review Detail

 
Young Adult Fiction
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

The Book Thief

I first read this book for my 8th grade English class, almost four years ago. When I joined Goodread a couple of years ago, I gave the book four stars based on my memories of what I’d read.

Now that I’ve reread it with a more mature and critical mindset, I think four stars still holds true.

Markus Zusak remains, in my mind, one of the most quotable authors I’ve ever read. His style is rich and full of imagery and clever turns of phrase that are beyond fantastic. If I wasn’t afraid that it might be stupid and something I’d later regret, I’d take out a highlighter and go crazy. As is, sticky notes will have to do. Simply put, Zusak writes the way I love, the way I want to write, the way one of my very good writing buddies writes (and I adore her prose because of her imagery and descriptiveness).

For the whole “Death narrates” aspect, I’m not blown away. I think it’s a clever idea, and I think it worked, and was an experiment in writing gone right. But many people seem to think Death’s grim humor and unique tone is what makes the book, and I’d have to disagree. It’s interesting, yes, but that’s not what makes the book special.

And in my opinion, what makes this book worth the second read is the last 70 pages. The Book Thief’s end is one of the most hauntingly beautiful things I’ve ever read, probably more so because the reader knows it’s coming from the absolute beginning. The entire thing is an emotional mess. I don’t cry when I read books, and I didn’t cry when I read The Book Thief, but the feeling was there. It’s such a terrific sad-yet-happy resolution. I finished this and seriously sat there like: “Did this all just happen? Did Zusak just pull that off?”

I read Zusak’s other major novel, I Am the Messenger, last year, and I think that in comparison, the writing of The Book Thief is maybe a little less accessible. Death’s narration gives you a certain distance from the characters and plot, and his little sidebar comments can at times be distracting. Some may like that, but I don’t. That’s why, on the whole, I’m not as huge a fan of Zusak’s choice in narrator as the rest of The Book Thief’s dedicated fans.

And while Zusak’s angle on WWII is new—poor German foster girl who steals books—I feel that on the whole, WWII as a topic is very, very tired. I’m not denying that there’s a lot of material to work with, but I can only read so many books about how awful the Nazis were before things get stale. Elie Wiesel’s Night paints the picture clearly enough without additional fictionalized accounts. It’s sort of the way I felt about John Green’s The Fault in our Stars—a great author tackles overdone gimmick.

That being said, the first couple hundred pages of this are very rough, and by rough I mean boring. It’s all typical Nazis attempting to brainwash unsuspecting Germans, some people who see through the brainwashing and are morally superior to hating Jews, hiding a Jew in the basement—the sort of thing anybody would write about in a WWII-era novel.
But like I said, the last 70 pages redeemed a lot of the staleness of this book.

For those willing to brave the dense content and length, The Book Thief is worth your time. Zusak’s writing is excellent, as is the end. I can easily see why this book is so popular, and I think it’s well-deserving of its fame. When I read it when I was fourteen, I remember being pretty ambivalent about it, and I think I still am.

Not one of my absolute favorites, even after a reread and some consideration, but I think it’s a worth while time investment. Zusak certainly can write.

Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Peppa in Space (Peppa Pig)
Get ready for a Peppa Pig story that's out of...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Stars We Steal
Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo”...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Pete the Cat and the Itsy Bitsy Spirder
Pete the Cat’s cool adaptation of the classic children’s song...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Superlative Birds
Explore the fascinating world of superlative birds―from the bee hummingbird,...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
In Another Life
Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden,...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Even Monsters Go To School
What’s a school day like for you? ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Can Cat and Bird Be Friends
In a sweet and clever picture book from debut author-illustrator...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Origami Bible Stories For Kids
Perfect for Sunday school lessons and youth group activities--paper figures...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Pig the Stinker
In this hilarious adventure, Pig the Pug STINKS! Pig likes...
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Little Rabbit Lost
It is Little Rabbit’s birthday and his family surprises him...
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Cece Loves Science and Adventure
Cece loves science and adventure! ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Hannah Sparkles: Hooray For the First Day of School
Cheer along with Hannah Sparkles on her first day of...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends
This is Turtle. This is...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Trace
In a debut novel that's perfect for fans of Jason...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
When Summer Ends
Three months Two changed fates One...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Mystery Club (Mr. Wolf's Class #2)
Mr. Wolf's students are settling into their new classroom, and...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

The Stars We Steal
 
4.7
"Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie "Leo" Kolburg has a title, but not much else. She's heir to an older European spaceship.When the..."
In Another Life
 
4.0
"I really loved this storyline. The Story: Chloe is going through a tough time with her family. After her..."
When Summer Ends
 
5.0
"This book is everything. The Story: Olivia and Aiden have good lives. Olivia has a boyfriend she loves..."
Vow of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, #2)
 
5.0
"VOW OF THIEVES is a thrilling end to a wonderful spin-off YA fantasy. Although a spin-off series from the Remnant..."
The Beautiful Lost
 
3.3
"A first-person past-tense telling exclusively from the perspective of Maia, a depressed high school sophomore with some ambitious—if half-formed—plans for..."
Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, #1)
 
5.0
"Absolutely fantastic! "Dance of Thieves" is a really wonderful YA fantasy that takes place in the world of 'The Remnant..."
10 Blind Dates
 
4.7
"10 BLIND DATES is the must-read romantic comedy of the fall! Sophie is staying with her grandparents and her very..."
Maybe This Time
 
4.7
"Sophie is bound and determined to make it out of her small Alabama town and attend design school in New..."
Brawler
 
4.7
"Eddie McGuire is a talented high school wrestler with a horribly short fuse. This is no doubt a result of..."
Skyjacked!
 
3.3
"Six students from an elite private school are returning home after a camping trip on the private plane belonging to..."
Wicked Fox (Gumiho, #1)
 
4.0
"WICKED FOX is a unique urban fantasy that uses Korean mythology to bring a mythological creature to life. Miyoung is..."
Wilder Girls
 
4.7
"Beware. Wilder Girls will draw you in, softy whispering tendrils creeping through your mind and thorny vines entangling your heart..."
Aurora Rising
 
5.0
"Now I am huge huge fan of both Jay and Amie as individuals and as co-authors. Their Illuminae series completely..."
Crown of Coral and Pearl
 
4.7
"CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL Is a story of sisters, adventure, and change. Nor and Zadie, whose names mean coral..."
The Grace Year
 
5.0
"THE HANDMAID'S TALE meets LORD OF THE FLIES in this dark, atmospheric, and sweeping YA dystopian. Tierney James is 16-years-old,..."
The Last True Poets of the Sea
 
5.0
"THE LAST TRUE POETS OF THE SEA is a beautiful coming-of-age story. After her brother attempts suicide, he is sent..."
No Place Like Here
 
4.7
"When Ashlyn’s father goes to prison and her mother goes to rehab for depression, her world falls apart. Ashlyn’s father..."
Trash
 
4.0
"The plot of the story for most of the book is great but towards the end of the book, it..."
Hatchet (Brian's Saga #1)
 
3.0
"this is a good book, but it doesn't have a good ending to it. it sounds a bit rushed, but..."
Not if I Save You First
 
4.3
"this book is amazing!!! I am still reading it but I am up to a good part. don't wanna spoil..."