Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Published: March 14th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 552
Rating: 5 stars

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

"Even death has a heart."
-- Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

I had heard a million things of The Book Thief before I started reading it. Almost all of them were so positive it was hard to believe. It almost made it feel like an over-hyped book. Nevertheless, I starting reading and flew through those pages. Before I knew it I was hugging my copy because I finished it. Count this in as one of my new all-time favourites.

Looking at The Book Thief as a whole, I can agree with everyone and say that the impact of the writing style on the novel isn't something to ignore. Markus Zusak's writing style is either something you love or hate. I personally had a love-hate relationship with it, especially in the beginning. I fancied the way he composed his sentences. Each word seemed to be chosen with care. Lots of descriptions and a perfect plot twist, but also many flash-forwards and flashbacks. I've probably read something with a flash-forward or two, yet they weren't so clear as with this book. I just loved the way they were used. I must admit there were times I was confused by both the flash-forwards and flashbacks. Were we still in one, or already back at the present? Did this character actually die right now or is his death still to come? Despite all this, I felt like they didn't matter that much. They're easily overlooked. When I was confused by something, it never lasted long enough to be an issue. I mean, they are the reason why I finished this baby in three days.

Not only was the writing crucial for its pace, the plot on the other hand also had something to do with it. You can look at it as a beautiful combination. They're all so neatly woven together you just can't look at them as separate objectives. Back to the plot; it's actually nothing that special really. This kind of plot can easily be compared to many other war novels. In the end you wouldn't find that many differences. What made The Book Thief special was the narration and the little details. To start off with the narration, it was the thing that got me to read this book. Have you ever read a book told from Death's perspective besides this? No, me neither. It's a risky decision the author made, but it turned out to be beautiful. I don't think it could be told in any other way. It's haunting and beautiful. About the little details, I'm talking about how the plot got together in the end. Sometimes you don't know what kind of importance a chapter has, until you reach another chapter that connects with it. Markus Zusak made all these little connections throughout the book so they all got together in the end. For example, with Liesel stealing books, it all leads up to writing her own. And that element then connects to another which creates the perfect ending. I'm telling you, how all these little things manged to create such a perfect novel is hard to explain. I can just say I absolutely love it.

Going into a small in-depth paragraph about the ending, there is so much I want to say. When I first read the flash-forward, I had to blink a few times to understand its meaning. After the blinking I re-read the sentences. I found it hard to believe. Maybe it wasn't true. I mean, it was only something that seemed random and not in place. However, as I started to make my way to the very end, I was in a huge state of denial. I literally had to contain myself for not yelling and calling Markus Zusak a cruel human being, because I was at a family party. The pages after that were both just sad and heart-warming and my feels were all over the place.

I have a weakness for normal but realistic characters. The Book Thief was full of them. All these wonderful personalities, the friendships made and the not so surprising but still incredibly sweet romance... Every character is there for a reason and has its own contribution to the story. I was attached to all of them. As anyone else who's read the book, I just adored Max. He was the character I melted for. His actions, his choice of words, everything about him was adoring. Moving onto the relationships, I'm currently speechless to express all my feels regarding them. They were all powerful and heart-warming. It's all so adorable, you just can't not care for all of this.

I think it's pretty clear now why The Book Thief is one of my new favourite's of all time. Not only did I immediately fell for the characters, the writing style is what made this book so perfect. I could go on and on and say how much I loved it, but I think I've come to a point where I realise I still have homework to do.

I am going to watch the film and curl up in a ball and cry.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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