Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Justine's Thoughts: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak



Book Description:

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.

A quote:

Even death has a heart.

Any thoughts:

I like reading about World War II although I’ve only read one about the Jewish side. I remember it being in the point of view of a Jewish survivor. But this one explores the other side of World War II and I was so captivated that I found myself eager to keep reading until I finish.

What I found so fascinating was the narrator. It’s Death! I never really knew it until later on in the story because he doesn’t directly say it. But it’s interesting the way he told the story. His voice is satiric, which is what I love. He tells you the ending before you actually get to the ending and it gets confusing sometimes. It’s just the way he tells the story that is very clever. I admire Zusak for that!

And of course, the characters are brilliantly developed. I still can’t decide who my favourite is...so I guess I’ll have to say all of them. While reading, I became emotionally attached to them. It’s just hard not to. And then I couldn’t help but burst into tears afterwards. It touched me in a way that is meaningful, especially because Death narrates. Death views life as something that is precious, Death takes the soul out of a human’s heart and gently carries them, and Death is only doing his job that the “boss” tells him to do.

The format the book is written is one I’ve never seen before. Zusak inserts quotes here and there to help the reader in understanding what’s happening. For instance, there would be a definition for a word in German and sometimes, there’s an underlying meaning. You’d have to look beneath the surface to truly get it. It’s a deep, unforgettable book.

It’s hard not to give The Book Thief a rating of 5 out of 5. It really deserves it. But of course, there are a few warnings before reading it. Obviously, it is not a quick and light read. There is no happily ever after in these kinds of stories. And you already know what happens from the very beginning. In the end, you will cry. Still, I strongly recommend it. It’s definitely a book you cannot miss.

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