This book was so good that I cried in the end. Yes, literally. Markus Zusak's writing is clear, bold, and engaging. After I read the book, I researched Zusak and learned that the book is actually based on his mother's story about how she and her family barely survived living in Germany during Hitler's reign and World War II. He said it was a story he felt compelled to write, even if no one ever read it. Once I learned this, I had more appreciation for his novel. One of my favorite books of all time, and I'm a voracious reader.
So well-written. The story hooks the reader right from the beginning (who wouldn't pay attention to Death as the Narrator?) and has them turning pages to the end. Wonderful variety of characters who interact with each other, building tension as the story progresses. Great plot and subplots. True-to-life details helps create strong visuals/setting as to what life was like during World War II in Nazi-ruled Germany for German citizens.
Death as a narrator? What an idea! It was so interesting to see the Second World War from a German perspective and find out more about the climate of fear that existed in Nazi Germany - a real eye-opener. At the same time, the book puts you through the emotional ringer big-time. I think this is a story that stays with you long after the last page.
Absolutely brilliant! With Death as the narrator, this book takes you through a few years in the life of a girl living through the second world war. Although world war books tend to be the same, this gives it a different angle. The fact that they talk about books a lot is a bonus ;) Very good!
Where does one even begin with this book? Nothing I say could ever really do it justice. I guess I understand what all the fuss was about now.
Liesel is now one of my favorite heroines of all time. She's strong-willed, compassionate, and still just a girl. She cries, she makes mistakes, and she lets herself question everything she's ever known. The emotion contained in this one girl is just heartbreaking at times.
I could talk on and on about all the characters, but I'll keep things short and just say this: all the main side characters were wonderfully written and I felt some sort of affection towards them all.
Death is a fantastic narrator. He's a little odd, but really rather likable. I loved the way he cared for the humans and their souls. His storytelling is a bit disjointed, but I grew to like it.
I've never read or seen anything from the point of view of an average German in the times of World War II. It's easy enough to think of them all as one big, bad entity, but of course that's not the case. The majority of them were just normal people trying to continue on with normal lives. It hurts to know that these people could be anyone and that this truly happened to so many people.
The Nutshell: Everything I'd ever heard about the emotions of this book was true. I ended up finishing it at work and was quite the mess for the last hour or so of my day. The story may just be about a girl growing up in World War II Germany, but that's the quiet beauty of it all.
It is easy to say that this book is unforgettable. Because it really is. I will never in this lifetime forget The Book Thief.
It's the other words to describe my feelings toward this book that I find hard to think about.
This book is different. Different to all the other books that I have ever read.
Firstly, it is narrated by Death itself. That's something I have never ever seen before, and I was done in the most perfect of ways.
Secondly, this book is set in one of the darkest of times that humans have ever been through. But this book isn't all dying and screams of the Jewish being tortured, this book still has a childhood that a lot of people would die for. One full of a loving family, amazing friends and criminal escapades.
Lastly this book has such an astounding use of metaphors. Markus Zusak has compared things no one else could. He barley used any smilies, but metaphors, making you want so much to believe. My favorite metaphor in this book was the one about the cloud stretching towards the sun like a tight-rope, and Max and Liesel walking hand in hand along it together. This was a truly beautiful line that was truly amazing.
Most books that have been written during this period of time are very depressing, with hardly fun parts, all sadness for everyone of the characters. But this book had captured the laughter and smiles of the children who still had fun during this time, children like Liesel and Rudy.
I think that this book kinda let itself down in the sections when it told us the ending. I think that this spoiled the storyline, and made you know what to expect. I know that this was a recount by Death, but I think that the author should of not gave away the ending.
This book is beautiful, haunting and it captures your heart in every page you turn, a flourishing childhood blooming in the saddest of times.
Beautiful and haunting story, but not for everyone.
This book is not for everyone. Not by a long shot. It’s not fast-paced (it took me an entire week to get through, which is like 5 years in book-reviewer world). It’s sad. It’s set during one of the darkest periods in human history. It’s narrated by Death. So even though I’m about to give a positive review, you have to consider all of these things before deciding whether this is a book you want to attempt.
That said, this was a wonderful book. It’s very different from most of the YA fiction out there. The writing style almost made me feel like I was floating above the story, or dreaming it. Death views everything happening in Liesel’s life calmly. Death doesn’t make many judgments about what he is witnessing. He is intrigued, and sometimes feels sorry for the people he is observing, but he is mostly detached from the events. It almost gave the book a hazy feel, if that makes any sense.
Also, since Death exists outside of our perceptions of time and space (and since he is Death), he sometimes jumps around in the narrative. A character will have something happen to him, and suddenly Death will interject his own thoughts about that character’s death, sometime later. And then we’ll be back in the present again. Sometimes a death is mentioned briefly early in the book, then explained fully later. Other times, Death merely alludes to the character’s later death, and that’s the last we ever hear of it.
Some people find this off-putting or spoiler-ish. But seriously, everyone dies, someday. And I imagine if I was Death, I’d view people’s actions through the lens of their eventual and inevitable deaths too.
As for the human characters, I never felt like I truly knew or completely understood them, because Death doesn’t fully know or understand them either. But I was able to feel them and sympathize with them. I could see many nuances and facets to each of them, but always with a slight sense of detachment. It’s a hard feeling to put into words. Normally, if I don’t feel fully connected with the characters, I can’t enjoy a book. But the detachment in this book seemed very deliberate, instead of the author just not knowing how to make me feel connected.
As for the plot itself, this isn’t a typical Holocaust book, in that we don’t ever venture into the concentration camps (with the exception of Death’s haunting recollection of carrying souls away from the gas chambers) and the main character is too young to fully understand what is going on around her. Liesel’s main concerns are obtaining food, reading her books, and spending time with her friends and foster parents. The main exception to this is the time spent hiding Max in the basement. But even then, Liesel is more concerned with the stories he tells and the friendship they form. She doesn’t care that he is a Jew, and doesn’t spend much time pondering his fate if he is ever found out.
There’s a bittersweet innocence to her story. She can go to Hitler Youth meetings, attend book burnings, and hide a Jew in her basement, but she is still largely ignorant to the horrors of the world around her. Of course, even a child can’t be oblivious forever, and once the war finally comes directly to Liesel, it is hear- wrenching.
I cried towards the end of this book. I pretty much never cry during books (I think the last time I cried was when I read The Chamber by John Grisham in 1998, and I still can’t really explain that one), but I cried while reading this one. The only thing stopping me from a full-on gulping and hiccuping ugly-cry was the fact that my husband was sleeping in the bed next to me, and I didn’t want to wake him up (plus, I kind of thought that if I did wake him up, he may make fun of me for crying so hard at a book. And I didn’t feel like explaining why it was totally justified).
I wasn’t prepared for how hard it was going to hit me. As I mentioned before, I felt like I had gone through the bulk of the book as a detached observer. I didn’t feel completely connected to the characters, although I didn’t mind. And yet at the end, I could barely even breathe through the tears.
The Book Thief is a story of regular people doing the best they can during a period of unspeakable evil. It’s a story of Death being fascinated by life. And a story of a child being a child, in a world where innocence is a luxury few can afford.
I don’t even know where to begin. This book is a cross of everything I look for in a book: beautifully written, characters that are so easy to care about, messages and themes that melted my heart, a plot with hope intertwined in desolation. It was all just so gorgeous. I promise you, you will not see me give five stars to plot, characters, AND writing for most books.
That said, this book is a little bit hard to get in to. It’s narrated from the perspective of Death, who is more sympathetic and compassionate than you might imagine – maybe even more so than humans. The above little paragraph I wrote is how I felt upon the second time I read the book, whereas the first time, I thought it was simply an average book and only revisited it about a year later. It’s a bit confusing at the start of the book, which is why I felt I was more able to appreciate the book a second time through.
Zusak’s use of Death as narrator is actually pretty brilliant. He’s got an excellent last sentence that is rather ironic, but portrays a very striking message. It’s so easy to love all the characters, no matter who they are. And I want to just say: the writing. The writing. THE WRITING. Wow. I have never read a book that compared to this level of writing because Zusak’s style is so unique and beautiful and heartbreaking and able to convey the most complex ideas through the most simple sentences. There’s a chapter near the end of the book that takes up less than a page – I had already been crying for quite a bit, but those few sentences completely threw me over the edge.
Which reminds me: this is a sad book. Lots of hope in it too, but it’s really just so tragic to read sometimes. I mean, come on, a book taking place in Nazi Germany and looking at the lives of a family who is very much accepting of Jews. I felt like I was constantly crying in the last fifty pages or so (probably less), but every time I thought I was going to stop, I’d read something else that’d make me feel so awfully sad again.
Recommended for: those with an appreciation for beautiful writing style, anyone who wants a unique viewpoint of World War II, people who want to learn a few German curse words, and everyone else, too.
Subversive Offering On Human Tragedy To Provide Wonderful Perspective
The human race has proven to be, all at once, terribly atrocious and profoundly lovely. Unfortunately for Death (the narrator of this story), as one of the major distresses of the job, he is inevitably present for all of the former and VERY little of the latter. Particularly, in Nazi Germany, Death is an extremely busy witness to fear, anger, despair, genocide and, as a result, is terrified of humans.
However, in this setting of consternation and darkness, Mr. Zusak centers the story of The Book Thief around a tale of kindness, enduring love, personal and familial strength as well as a blinding glimpse of the unspeakable ability of the human spirit to persevere. As one reads this richly ambitious novel, there will be moments within the emotional experience of the reader destined to enlighten, sadden, encourage and devastate. Those who finish The Book Thief, will surely understand (and be thankful) why Death embraced Leisel Meminger's story as an act of hope and empathy to share with all of us; just as Leisel would do.
If I could read this book over and over again, I would never put it down. It sounds corny, but this book actually changed how I read books. My 8th grade English teacher gave it to me, thinking I would enjoy it; oh boy was he right! I ended up falling madly in love with Liesel and her crazy friend Rudy, her papa who worked his way into my heart by so tenderly teaching his little foster daughter to read, and surprisingly, Death, who was the curious narrator. This little girl who stole books, who grew to love her dear papa, who's best friend wanted nothing more than a kiss, and who's kindness and friendship saved the life of a Jew, caught the interest of Death, and stole my heart as well. I won't give much away, but all I can say is a little street named Heaven was the home of an amazing little girl who captivated death, and all who knew her. And Heaven met Hell one day in Nazi Germany, with Liesel and Death at the center.