Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Written By: Markus Zusak
Published By: Picador (Australia), Knopf (USA)

Published On: March 14, 2006
Pages: 576

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel 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 before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It's been a couple of months since I read The Book Thief, and I've mentioned before how much I enjoyed it, so I thought I might as well write a review on it. 

There are many different covers out and about for this particular book but the image I've chosen here is the cover on the book that I own. I feel that it really represents the story. Death, the narrator, standing alone in a frozen almost dead forest. Then of course the splatter of blood. The mark of war. It's a very thought provoking image if you really look into it, and I'm sure English classes all over the world have a field day pulling it to pieces. (I used to hate that part of english.)

I had been recommended this book to read by so many people for the last two years. I had been roaring through my books at such a fast pace and I thought this would be the same. Not so. 

Firstly, the writing style is very different to everything else I'd been reading. It's narrated by death, so of course it's a different reading experience. You're not hearing about the story from someone who is actually in the action, you're hearing about it from someone who is on the outside, looking in. 

Secondly... you read the plot synopsis. You know it's set in WWII, and you know at some point during the book she'll be a part of hiding a Jewish man in her basement. The content of this book is heavy. There are no restrictions on who may die and who may live. Who may be sent to the war front and who may be beaten to a pulp in front of all the other characters. 

There are of course funny moments, charming moment and sweet moments. But it's a difficult book to read. That being said, it's very rewarding. It's a great story, very powerful and very serious. I love the occasional book like this but you really have to be in the right mind frame to read it. I should issue some form of warning. By the end of the book your heart may be broken.

Otherwise, it's a very thought provoking and well written novel. I would certainly recommend it, but you probably have to be into the darker, heavier books.

I give The Book Thief 5 stars.


  1. You're so right about having to be in the right frame of mind to read this one. I had it on my shelf for ages before I finally decided to plunge in. Last November, I read this one and BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys around Remembrance Day here in Canada. I felt like they were both fitting to the occasion. I'm really glad I finally got around to reading THE BOOK THIEF because it was every bit as rewarding as everyone said it would be. Great review, Samantha! :-)

    1. Ahh I really want to read Between Shades of Gray and I have it but everytime I look to read another book i'm not often in the right frame of mind. I know it'll be as rewarding as The Book Thief, just gotta get around to reading it!

  2. Your book cover is very fitting to the story. It's quite different than the one I own. I agree that THE BOOK THIEF was a great read, although the subject matter is heavy. I thought the idea for telling the story was so unique, considering there are many, many books that tackle this period in history. I'm teaching my son about World War II next year, and I'll definitely be reading him this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

    1. Yeah I've seen a couple of different covers for the book, it's interesting how some are more fitting than others. I agree, the way this story is told is very unique and a great way to tackle the subject matter of a period in time that features in so many books. I hope your son will enjoy it too!

  3. It's interesting, when I read this book I didn't think it was that good, other than the ending which practically made me cry. But after several months, I still think about it, and compare everything I read to it. It really is an amazing story.

    1. I know what you mean! I had that same thought about One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Hated reading it. It was PAINFUL! But when I look back I still believe it to be one of the most incredible books i've read :)