Books

The Book Thief – Book Review

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everyone should have a book and I believe this is mine.

I cannot claim that I’ve read a lot of novels, but among the ones that I have, no other book has moved me as much as The Book Thief. It might be because I’m a lover of Holocaust literature and movies, or because I adore authors who experiment with their writing, or for countless other reasons; this book worked out in every way possible, and it was just the right depth for someone like me.

The story is set in Nazi Germany, where pain, suffering, and death are the ways of life. Among them, Death comes forward and tells the tale of a 13 year old German girl and her love (and hate) for words. The story itself is typical to other Holocaust tales, as it should be, but what sets this book apart is the narration. As I’ve already mentioned, Death is the narrator. Death, however, is portrayed in a slightly different way, as per the requirements of the story.

While checking the reviews for this book, I found rather extreme reactions. Yes, there are two major reasons why few people might not like this book at all, and I should mention them here. Firstly, the narrator. Death comes off as really arrogant, as he gives you ‘spoilers’ throughout the novel and you come to know about most of the major events beforehand. Secondly, the characters. They are almost too beautiful to be real.

I, and countless others, found these factors very enjoyable and essential to the novel. All I can say in defense is that these ‘flaws’ were meant to be there and without them The Book Thief would not have been as special as it is. The ultimate aim of the author, in my opinion, was to create something magical and a little set apart from reality (almost like the movie La Vita e Belle, but a little harsher). You might also find a vague similarity in narrative style with the anime Honey and Clover, although the themes are poles apart.

You might want to read this book:

1. If you enjoy beauty
2. If you enjoy casual story-telling
3. If you enjoy unconventional descriptions
4. If you like sadness
5. If you love books

You might not want to read this book:

1. If you’re looking for something raw and realistic
2. If you want suspense
3. If you appreciate nothing but happy endings

Few quotes from the book to help you decide:

1.

There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life:

1. He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else.
2. He would make himself a small, strange mustache.
3. He would one day rule the world.

…Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words.

2.

He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world.

She was the book thief without the words.

Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.

3.

Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of what might come leaking out.

4.

So much good, so much evil. Just add water.

5.

Often I wish this would all be over, Liesel, but then somehow you do something like walk down the basement steps with a snowman in your hands.

6.

You can’t eat books, sweetheart.

7.

I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skills is their capacity to escalate.

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