Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thoughts: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


Who would have thought that I’d find a book narrated by Death funny? But such is the case with Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Death narrates the adventures of Liesel Meminger, an orphan sent to live with foster parents during World War II. He—I’m assuming Death is a he—sees her stealing a book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, during her brother’s burial. The book thief’s illustrious career, according to Death, begins there. But then the book thief’s life isn’t just about, well, stealing books. When her foster parents hide a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s life is changed forever.

Right off the bat, I fell in love with Liesel Meminger. She was spunky, tough, and slightly vulnerable, but I didn’t fall in love with just her. I fell in love with the entire cast of The Book Thief—Rudy with his lemon yellow hair, the almost-angelic Hans Hubermann, the scary but lovable Rosa Hubermann, and the Jewish fist-fighter Max Vandenburg. I even liked the door-spitter Frau Holzatpfel even if I could barely pronounce her name. The bottom line is, I cared deeply about the characters, and a book hasn’t managed to make me feel that way in a long, long time.

Gah, this book was depressing which is funny because it made me laugh out loud, too. Every time I was on the verge of crying—which was about every twenty pages, and, no, I’m not overly emotional—Zusak defused my tears by cracking a joke. But then what else could I expect about a book set in World War II Germany which also reflects about human nature? I mean, don’t we all try to see the silver lining during dark times?

By the end of the book, I was bawling like a baby. Bawling! Mockingjay managed to cloud my vision a bit, but a book hasn’t reduced me to a shivering heap of tears in a while, not since I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows three years ago. I felt like someone reached into my heart and squeezed it. The Book Thief made my heart hurt, but it also gave me hope about humankind. I mean, if Death sees the good in mankind, then I should see it as well.

Rating: 5/5 for being completely amazing and teaching me some German swear words. Awesomesauce!

Note: I am aware that The Book Thief is a relatively new book, but I feel it's already on its way to becoming a classic...

14 comments:

Misha said...

Woah! Like you said - What a coincidence! My sister reviewed it on our blog today. I love the book so much and I am glad you do too. It has to be a classic within the coming years.

Amanda said...

I feel so bad - I'm like the only person in the world who simply didn't have a strong reaction to this book. It was okay, not bad but it also didn't make any impression on me at all. :/

Sam said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I'm now following yours :)

And I didn't mind reading aloud in class, it was the putting on of an accent that was horrible! I'm glad I'm not the only person who didn't love Sherlock Holmes, it's one of those books that I feel I should love.

I really enjoyed "The Book Thief" - it was a 5/5 for me as well.

....Petty Witter said...

I saw your comments on Maxine's post on Misha's blog and as The Book Thief is also one of my all time favourites I thought I'd stop by to say hello and read your thoughts on the book. A great review, nice to have met you.
By the way Amanda, you are not alone, I've encouraged several people to read this and a few, not many but some, did not have any real feelings, good or bad, about it.

JessiKay89 said...

I feel like I'm the last person on earth who hasn't read this book! It's been decided. This will be the next book to check out of the library!

mel u said...

I read this book in 2009-it was one of the first books I blogged on-I really enjoyed it and might read it again soon-I think it is sad to see it marketed only as a YA book

Shelley said...

The German cuss words are especially fun in the audio version!

Laurie said...

Darlyn, and all...

Have you tried Elie Wiesel's "Night"? If you found "The Book Thief" moving, it will simply knock you down. Harrowing and beautifully written true story of Wiesel's experiences during the Holocaust.

Laurie
www.whatsheread.blogspot.com

Avid Reader said...

I read this in 2007 and then re-read it in 2010. Both times it blew me away. It such a unique blend of humor, war, beautiful language and more. I love, love, love it and I'm so glad you did too.

Erin said...

This one was one of my all-time favorites! I need to reread it -- it's been a few years. I, too, cried (nay...bawled!) as much at this one as at the final Harry Potter book, though I read them in the reverse order. So glad you enjoyed The Book Thief!

lisa :) said...

So glad you liked it! I love Zusak's theme about the power of words. I read this one a few years ago but it definitely jumped onto my All Time Favorites list!

Peggy said...

I had the same reaction to this book. And just like Harry Potter, it is just as good the second time around! (And third, fourth, etc.)

lynaisms said...

Hi! I was browsing through my own blog when I saw your comment on a post. It's nice to know you're from Iloilo, too (I guess I missed the last part of your comment the last time, sorry).

Anyway, I share the same feelings over The Book Thief. I can still remember the way my chest felt like it carried a ton of bricks after I finished reading the book. I love, love, love The Book Thief, I want to read it again, more so after reading your review. Which reminds me, I still have to get my copy from the borrower who seems to have no plans of returning it to me yet.

Btw, I added you to my blogroll. I hope you won't mind. :)

Lynai
http://lynaireads.luigiandlynai.net

Beth said...

I'm planning to read this as part of the classics challenge. I've seen so many rave reviews I'm really looking forward to it.

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