07 May 2015

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Published: 2005

Pages: 550

Genre/s: Historical Fiction

Source: Own library

Find It: Goodreads ~ Amazon

Synopsis

HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION - THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH

It's a small story, about:

a girl

an accordionist

some fanatical Germans

a Jewish fist fighter

and quite a lot of thievery.

ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW - DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES


My Thoughts

As I read the first pages of The Book Thief, I was confused. Everyone and their dog has loved this book, and yet I’m trying to figure out what the hell is going on and the prose is waaaaaaayyyy too purple for my tastes. But I persevere, I keep reading because either I’m missing something terribly obvious or I’m going to lose my faith in all my book loving friends. Before I know it, I’m completely sucked in and only stop reading for other compulsory life activities.

Normally, when I have trouble getting started with a book, even if I end up loving it, I’ll deduct a star or half as penance. But you know what? Fuck it, this book redeemed itself rather quickly and then had the audacity to make me want to cry. (Not actually cry because my reading heart is made of stone, but WANT to cry). So five stars it is.

Narrated by Death, The Book Thief is the story of Leisel Meminger, who finds herself living with a foster family just outside of Munich, after her mother puts her in foster care, and her younger brother dies. It didn’t take very long for Leisel, and her foster parents Hans and Rosa, to find a place in my heart – whether good or bad, almost all of the characters, and especially the main characters of The Book Thief are larger than life. I loved both Leisel and her best friend Rudy, her foster father Hans, but most tellingly, the seemingly abrasive Rosa Hubermann who really does have a heart of gold (albeit a well-hidden one), and on and on – Zusak invests a lot in his characters and it was so easy to imagine them in my mind.

The most telling thing, however, is that I loved this book despite two things that would normally irritate me:

- Death tends to go off on one a little bit – the colours, the way of speaking, at times it was beautiful and poetic, at other times I thought perhaps he’d been partaking in an afternoon tipple.

- The story is not linear – Death occasionally jumps back and forth, and he’s a terrible one for dropping hints, or even outright telling part of the story before Leisel’s story has arrived at that point.

So in the end, I loved The Book Thief - so much that I also bought the movie tie-in enhanced Kindle version and the audiobook so I could read for every possible second. Its great historical fiction with fantastic characters, a unique narrator and although a little unconventional in approach, it’s definitely memorable.

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