When I mentioned on my personal blog that I had recently read and loved The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, our managing editor Jennifer, ever the taskmaster, suggested I write up a review for our site here. I told her I wasn’t sure I had much to offer by way of review other than 1) it’s fantastic! and 2) go read it already!
Side note: Totally kidding about the taskmaster bit! Jennifer is great!
The Book Thief is compelling… haunting… sad… hopeful… different… unique… beautifully written… full of richly drawn characters that I grew to love… a book I could not put down until I had devoured it, finishing it with tears in my eyes… need I go on? I could offer you a plot summary, the likes of which you can read at amazon or any other bookseller’s site. Even as I would try to describe to you the storyline, naming Death as the storyteller and Nazi Germany the setting, you might write it off as too sad and maybe a little too strange. Death? The narrator?
Yes, Death tells us the story of Liesel, a young German girl, the book thief herself. Death narrates, but it’s not as morbid as you might think. He’s self deprecating and almost humorous at times, writing with sparse prose and occasional understated wit, offering various “newsflashes” with bold type and all caps. He is thoroughly fascinated with human resilience and courage as well as the power of love. And, as you might expect, Death is no bit player in the story. It’s Nazi Germany after all. So, yeah, it’s a sad book, but not wholly so. As I said, I grew to love Liesel, her foster parents, particularly her father, as well as the young Jew Max who came to live in their basement and Rudy, her yellow haired partner in crime.
So, for my review: 1) It’s fantastic. One of the best books I’ve read, a distinction I don’t like to toss around easily. I loved it.
2) Now, go read it. Already.
Note: I think here in the US it is marketed as a YA novel so parents may want to note that there is some coarse language, though mostly in German with the occasional translation (!).
Wife and mother, Bible teacher and blogger, Lisa loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate and, of course, books. Read more of her reflections at Lisa writes….
Great review , I loved this novel when it came out as an Australian prize winner. I was totally surprised when Knopf in the US decided to market it as YA. I hope adults aren’t passing it by because of that strategy. I recently posted a guest review of it too. It’s nice to see something reviewed that’s not just newly released but a good solid story.
The Book Thief was one of the best books I read in 2008! You can read my review here–>http://hopeistheword.wordpress.com/2008/08/31/book-review-the-book-thief-by-markus-zusak/
I agree wholeheartedly – it’s fantastic, now go read it already! =) A lot of people I recommend this to, lose interest when I mention either (a) Death narrates, or (b) it’s set in Nazi Germany. I wish I could explain better why they should read it. *sigh*
I saw this on amazon and was intrigued. I’ll definitely have to check it out.
Oh, my online book club chose this as one month’s selection sometime last year, and for some reason or another I opted out that month. Man, I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about this since, and I’ve really been kicking myself!!
It’s in my pile right now. I may have to move it to the top!
I loved this book.
Jennifer, Snapshot (and 5M4B) says
See I told you so!!
Great review. It’s been on my radar a while as well.
This was the first book my library’s new book club read and we all loved it. Great book!
I LOVE this book and declared it one of those “redefining” books that make you intolerant of other less compelling ones! For a special treat, also listen to it on CD. I just finished it for the second time that way and it’s amazing in its own right.
S. Krishna says
I’ve heard such great things about this book but never have actually read it. I’ll have to do that soon!
Add another book to my growing list!
Carol in Oregon says
I echo Sara’s thoughts: listening to it on audio is incredible. Allan Corduner (I don’t think I’ve listened to any other of his performances) does an impeccable job; the German pronunciations add so much color. All those sau- words which I think sow, short vowel o, are pronounced ZOW.
I wish the author had toned down the language. My kids are mostly grown now, but I wouldn’t want a 12 year old girl to pick it up with no warning. Undoubtedly I am sheltered and live in a PG life. But the a**-licker epithets and Jesus, Mary and Joseph do make me cringe.
But the writing is so crisp. I have both the audio and the book checked out of the library. I’m listening to it, because time allows me to do that first. I’m looking forward to reading the book with my journal close by to capture all the incredible phrases.