Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Book Thief, A Review

The Book Thief is a powerful book. It's a book that I would call beautiful and epic and unique. With personified Death as the narrator, the story is told from a unique perspective that's strangely akin to a human's.

It's hard to describe how wonderful this story is. While it's set in Hitler's reign of Nazi Germany, the story is filled with humor and life. Many times I found myself laughing out loud at something that was said or done. The protagonist, a young orphan girl named Liesel, learns to live with her new foster parents, to make friends in Munich, to follow the Nazi propaganda, to learn how to get on with life during the oppressiveness of war. Her life's story is amazing and inspiring.

Death's perspective describes many things in colors and sounds, and the adjectives throughout this book are as close to realism as possible. It was as if I could reach out and touch what Death was describing. And since Death talks about his life during World War II, the descriptions are surreal and ghastly.

Liesel soon discovers that stealing makes her feel alive, that taking things is her way to stay apart. She turns to stealing books, and the book thief is born.

I liked how Death eased the burden of his tale throughout the story, by foreshadowing what was to come. This caused the novel to be tinged with tragedy everywhere, but it was not overwhelming. And even though I knew the direction the story was headed, I couldn't help but feel sad by the end of the novel. Actually, it made me feel like I should cry, but I couldn't bring myself to.

My favorite thing in the book was the relationships Liesel had with Rudy and Hans. Rudy was her best friend, and the two had a great friendship. Hans was her foster Father, and their love for one another was obvious.

There were many scenes from the book that were memorable, but I hesitate to write on them to remain spoiler free. Suffice it to say that the book was unforgettable.

The only thing I didn't like in the book was that it was marketed as a Young Adult book, targeted for teens. The author, Markus Zusak, did not write the book with a YA audience in mind, but this was decided by the publishers to market it this way (presumably because the protagonist was an adolescent/teen girl.) So if you abstain from YA books, don't let the tag scare you away, it definitely works as an adult novel.

All in all, The Book Thief was a superb novel. Its realism is phenomenal, its story is brilliant, and its characters are believable. I'm likely to remember this story for a long time, and it's one that I can see myself going back and reading again, enjoying it a second time around.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book:
"You see, even Death has a heart."
"'Don't get caught.' This from a man who had stolen a Jew."


Crystal said...

Awesome review!!! See why it's my favorite book of all time? I've told so many people about this book and most have looked at me weird when I mention it's narrated by Death and is set in Nazi Germany. A lot of people have said "how can you enjoy something like that?"

I wanted to cry at the end too, but tears never formed. I also loved the relationship Liesel had with Rudy and Hans and I really liked Max. Markus Zusak did an amazing job developing the characters.

logankstewart said...

@Crystal: I know. It was amazing. The childlike love between Rudy and Liesel was heartfelt and extraordinary. This is one of those books that I want to shove down someone's throat and tell them to read it. Sadly, there are a lot of people who won't read Holocaust fiction because they think it's too sad...

By the way, I've started calling my little puppy saumensch whenever she's being bad. "Stella, you little saumensch..."

David Wagner said...

Great review. I think I'll add it to my read list. Thanks for the recommendation.

logankstewart said...

@David: Thanks, David. Let me know what you think about it whenever you finish.

Shellie (Layers of Thought) said...

Logan -
Great review I saw it on goodreads!
It has been added to my over the top pile of books to be read.
One note - in google reader the light green text is not
Take care. :)

Krista said...

I have been wanting to get this book for sometime now but haven't yet. I'll have to get it the next time I'm in the book store. I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as you did, so now I know it'll be good! LOL! Great review :)

logankstewart said...

@Shellie: Do my typical posts show up readable on Reader? Cause this one was giving me errors from copying and pasting from Goodreads, and I tried to match the colors, so maybe that's why it didn't show up. Enjoy the book, whenever you get to it.

@Krista: It's always great to finish a book and feel like it was profound. That's how I felt after this one. Enjoy.

Shellie (Layers of Thought) said...

Yes they always come up great, except for this time. I would have let you know...
Have you tried using Windows live writer from the site. Its free and interfaces with your blog(s) if there are multiples. It is so cool and its free!
Crystal is all set up with it too.
Let me know what you think when you set it up... it will make your blogging life so much easier!

Okie said...

Great review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book (as I write this comment and think about the book, I'm thinking back on your other post I just commented on...about morbid curiosity...I think this particular book held the balance very well).

I wasn't quite sure I'd like having Death as the narrator, but it worked out very well and the personality of Death added a very interesting counterpoint to the rest of the world of the story.

The writing was crisp and engaging and the story had a ton of underlying thought provoking themes that still stick with me.

Great book and a great review.

logankstewart said...

Indeed, Death's personality was at times funny, at times serious, and at other times depressing. I enjoyed this perspective, but it was the story that drove the novel. Like you, it has stuck with me (even if it's only been a week or so).