Posted by: Matt | August 9, 2007

Review of The Book Thief

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief
Markus Zusak
2006

Reason for reading: Bloggers have been raving about this book. I realized I had missed out on something special and decided I needed to read it.

Quotes: “…I have kept her story to retell. It is one of the small legion I carry, each one extraordinary in its own right. Each one an attempt — and immense leap of an attempt –to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.”

“A Reassuring Announcement: Please, be calm, despite that previous threat. I am all bluster– I am not violent. I am not malicious. I am a result.”

*******

As I know many of you have already read this novel my review is not going to be as structured as normal.

I’ve read quite a few books about Nazi Germany and am well aware of the atrocities performed. I also know what Hitler and those who subscribed to National Socialism thought about Jews and many other ethnic groups. The books I have read have been non-fiction and, while they give an excellent overview of the prevailing political ideology and violence of Nazi Germany, they don’t do as good of a job at hitting you deep, touching your soul or heart as some might say. The Book Thief is certainly effective in doing that.

At times I wanted to scream out at those people filled with hatred, those who looked on with disgust as the Jews marched by on their way to Dachau. Somebody do something, say this is wrong, that it’s foul, that it’s terrible. But what could they do? Those that thought it wrong, like Liesel and Hans, did try to do something but were beaten for their small efforts.

I can only wonder how people can be so cruel, so awful, so heartless. How do people look on others and think them less than human, how do you justify that? I cannot fathom it, and for that I am glad, I don’t want to understand how it’s possible, I only wish it would stop.

This is a touching book, a sad book. One that I am happy I read. My expectations were high. I read it because of the glowing reviews I have seen on countless blogs. Unfortunately this may have raised my expectations a bit too high as I was just a tiny bit disappointed. But do not mistake, I enjoyed the novel and thought it very good. If you have not read it, though I think I might have been the last, I urge you to pick it up. Everyone should read this. Markus Zusak has written a book that belies his years.

Rating: 4.0

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Responses

  1. You’re not the last person to read this one! I’ve also heard great things about it and plan to get to it one day. Thanks for the review.

  2. Nice review, Matt – I’m one of those raving readers! I liked your last few sentences of this … you are so right: everyone should read it, and Zusak’s work is way beyond his years. Thanks for your thoughts on this one!

  3. Great review, thanks! I had started to hear about this on blogs, too, and you’re not the last to read it–but you might have convinced the last person to read it–me!

  4. “Markus Zusak has written a book that belies his years.”

    I think the same can be said of his target audience, Matt, since this is supposedly (at least in the US) a book meant for the Young Adult market.

    I really, really love this book.

  5. tara – I guess I’m not as behind as I thought!

    Wendy – I think especially young people know need to read it so that this terrible part of history is not forgotten.

    gentle reader – Well then, there are at least 2 people who haven’t read it yet!

    Sam Houston – This is actually one of the few Young Adult books I’ve read and I was surprised how mature the themes are.

  6. I just finished this one last week and I loved it. I was afraid I was going to be disappointed because of all the rave reviews I’d read about in the blogosphere but not disappointed at all. Definitely makes me want to read more by him to see how his other books compare.

  7. No, not the last—I still haven’t read it. (How do I manage to miss all these good books? *sigh* Maybe in the afterlife I’ll be able to catch up.)

  8. I too found “The Book Thief” enjoyable but slightly disappointing. My objections mostly related to the Death persona, although not to the unconventional narrative structure, which I quite enjoyed.

  9. iliana – I know he has one other book out right now, but the title escapes me. I might have to check it out.

    Heather – Looks like I’ve found some people that haven’t read it yet. There are just too many books out there to know about all the good ones!

    Sycorax Pine – I’m wondering what it was exactly about Death that you did not like. I thought it was an interesting choice to have as the narrator. But I think maybe a little more could have been done with it.

  10. I skimmed, because I hope to read this SOON and I didn’t want to hear something I shouldn’t hear, though I know you wouldn’t post outright spoilers.

  11. Dewey – Yeah, I’m usually careful about that and will give sufficient warning but I know how you feel. I always skim reviews of books I plan on reading.

  12. It’s hard to not be disappointed in a book at least a little bit if everyone is speaking so highly of it. Glad you enjoyed it!

  13. Hi Matt – It has been a few months since I read the novel, so I will point you to my review ( http://sycoraxpine.blogspot.com/2007/02/book-thief.html ) rather than trying to resurrect my now very vague thought processes about Death as a character. I hope it answers your question!

  14. Sycorax Pine – Thanks for the link. I checked it out and I can see what you are talking about although I kind of liked some of the eccentricities in the narrative.


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