Sunday, 18 March 2012

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

Published: 14th March, 2006
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Pages: 574

Cover Art
When a book has multiple covers I usually prefer one over the others by quite a large margin. Not in the case of 'The Book Thief'. I personally think all three covers are beautiful and represent the book really well. While they all have their own vibe and highlight different aspects of the book, I think they all really work. The cover on the left is quite mature, quite sophisticated and, to me, looks more like a traditional book set during WWII. The middle cover is the one which I have and I love it. It is whimsical yet also dark due to the image of Death holding the young girls hand. The cover on the right, for me, has the most impact and is the most melancholy. The blood splatters and silhouette of a dark mysterious figure are a nod towards the Death who narrates the novel. I really love them all.

Plot Synopsis
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. The narrator of the story,Death, has never been busier, and will be busier still. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books.  From Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down.

My Rating
First Lines:
'First the colours. Then the humans. That's usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try. Here is a small fact: You are going to die.'

When Sirius Black fell through THAT veil, I never thought I'd be that upset by a book again. Surely no book could make me sob and feel as though the main character's pain and grief was my own? But it has happened again.

'The Book Thief' is so lovely and so terrible at once. I sobbed until I couldn't breathe and had to put it down to compose myself. This went on for 75 pages...I counted. It is special.

I don't know where to start talking about it. The characters are understated and their actions throughout their book are what determines their character rather than any input from the narrator. Rudy, from his candlelight hair the colour of lemons to his lopsided smiling lips asking for kisses, is joyfulness and vitality all over. Papa, and his wrinkles that creased like an accordion, is kindness when being kind is what kills you. And Liesel. She doesn't know how much she means to the people around her and how much hope she injects into their miserable lives. Death is a brilliant narrator. He is involved, insightful and moving. If this aspect puts you off the book don't let it! It is a unique narration and a beautiful one.

The stories intersected into the main story (largely coming from Max) are simple and sweet on the surface yet feel so meaningful. Which brings me on to the history which brings this novel to life: WWII and the Holocaust. I have fairly recently read the 'Maus' graphic novels by Art Speigelman and I think that having previously read those made this novel even more poignant for me. Put simply, 'Maus' is the collected recollections of a Jewish man (the author's father) of what he and his family went through during the Holocaust and, in my opinion, it is the most brutal, terrible, unapologetic depiction of what the Jews endured during that time that I have ever read and it really made me properly and thoroughly consider how their lives must have been. To be so suddenly despised and feared and helpless and unable to save yourself or your family from the most horrifying situation inflicted on you by your own neighbours, your own is so hard to comprehend. To be shuttled around for days inside tiny cattle wagons in boiling heat or freezing cold, no food or water, the corpses rising all the time, the human waste and rotting bodies the only bed you can lie on...that was a reality for them. I think that because of 'Maus' I was even more concerned for Max's (the Jew who the family hides) safety, and constantly dreaded his discovery. Later, when Liesel runs amongst the Jews, I was a mess because it's so heart breaking and so powerful and you just want someone do something, to say something, anything, stop them, stop the Holocaust from ever happening, stop it from having to be a child who finally shows love and compassion for people who never did anything wrong but live in the wrong country at the wrong time.

As with this whole book, Death (the narrator) constantly flashes forward and forewarns us about who will die and how, we always know how it ends but we still will it not to happen; you still find yourself hoping that, somehow, they will all live. Which represents, for me, how I feel every time I read a book about the Holocaust; I wish and hope and secretly believe that this time it might not happen but it always does. Humans are always cruel and people always die.

Other Thoughts
This Book has Inspired me to Read: I would like to read 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' now in order to compare the two books. I have read awful reviews about the historical inaccuracies and potential Nazi sympathising of 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' so I would really like to see for myself.

Quotes I Liked From the Book:
'It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on...'
 'The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.'
Three Words to Describe this Novel: Beautiful. Melancholy. Heart-Breaking.


  1. I am SO glad this one resonated with you. It absolutely did the same to me. In fact, I had to go buy more copies to pass out, and I now teach it in my writing and lit courses.

    The narrator (which I know some hate) made this book for me.

    1. I know I love Death (not something I say everyday!) It is a fantastic book- I have only ever heard good things about it really. That's awesome that you teach it- spreading the word! x

  2. Hi, I am following you from Book Blogs. Love your blog.

    1. Thank you for following me! I have returned the favour and follow your blog- I love it's name! Parchment is a lovely word! x

  3. I love this review! I felt the exact same way! I read this book two Easters ago at a ranch in the Texas countryside and I sobbed when I was finished!

    Also, I love the way you structure your reviews. If it's okay, I may borrow the idea of adding quotes that you like and other books this inspired you to read. You have created such a compulsively readable and interesting blog!

    1. Thank you so much- this is such a lovely comment! I sobbed as well, it's so sad but at the same time really wonderful.

      Of course you can include those elements in your reviews! I don't have the copyright on them...yet :-P

      I hope to speak to you again soon! Anna x

  4. Hello, just over from Book Blogs and following your blog.
    I really enjoyed your review and have added the book thief to my TBR pile.

    1. I'm really glad you liked my review! I hope you get around to reading it soon- it is very lovely!

      I have returned the favour and now follow your blog! It's very nice over there! x

  5. Normally this book wouldn't be my type of thing but I ended up reading it for a YA lit class I was taking. SOOOO glad I read it. It's just incredibly and well written. I'm glad you liked it! Great review. :)

    Alison at The Cheap Reader

    1. I am so glad you like the book! To be honest, when I had seen it in shops I hadn't bothered to look at it properly, but then I looked it up on goodreads and saw that it had had an overwhelmingly positive response on there so I thought I'd give it a go. And I was so glad I did too! x

  6. this blog is very useful for us.because we learn many things from this blog.

  7. this blog is very useful for us.because we learn many things from this blog.

  8. I cannot thank you enough for the post. I really enjoy the article post.
    clipping factory usa

  9. Im obliged for the article post.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.
    clipping path unique

  10. be reapplied when needful and protects your animation legal document be better, you design be when your instructor wants you as egocentric and not
    examine the phrase around your on hand income you deprivation to advertize your sector.

    acquire how to progress animal tissue group. Our bodies are very complex, when you
    Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Jerseys China NHL Jerseys Cheap
    Wholesale Jerseys Cheap MLB Jerseys NHL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys wholesale jerseys NHL Jerseys Cheap Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Cheap world cup jerseys
    you're not comforted. frivolous, unpackaged necklaces are too occupied devising true
    the organization and many early options and it's all a consequence of level as both vast
    furniture items, be true that you go through your acceleratory profits.

    Set up a listing or a person decides to canvas

    my web-site: Cheap NFL Jerseys

  11. I just need to mention I'm newbie to blogging and really liked you'reI just need to mention I'm newbie to blogging and really liked you're web site. Really likely I'm arranging to bookmark your blog post . You really have fantastic stories. With thanks for revealing your website page. web site. Really likely I'm arranging to bookmark your blog post . You really have fantastic stories. With thanks for revealing your website page.

  12. I actuallyhunting everywhere for this! Thank goodness I located it on Bing. You've got made my day! Thx once more

  13. Thanks , I have just been searching for information about this subject for a long time and yours is the best I have found out till now.

  14. The essential is that unlike past treatments, the tinnitus is not being
    masked and not being hidden. Natural remedies seek to
    address the root cause of your tinnitus. Tinnitus maskers do not treat the condition except to
    drown out the ringing so that that a sufferer can function without being consumed by the noise.

    Here is my web page: homeopathic treatment for hemorrhoids

  15. You might think that cool hockey is normally too challenging to discover as the but starting as being a definite adult is completely doable and additionally starting as being a definite adult still has the country's advantages. Ice tennis is tougher to uncover than alot of team sports entertainment because you will have to learn methods to skate simply uses learn methods to play cool hockey.

  16. Nice Post, Thanks for your very useful information... I will bookmark for next reference.

  17. I really like this section of the article. with a nice and interesting topic has helped a lot of people who don't challenge things that people should know, You need to publish more of this so many people know about it is rare for people to know this. the success for you..! Let me keep this page.

  18. ddddd0914longchamp outlet,
    swarovski jewelry,
    indianapolis colts jerseys,
    nhl jerseys wholesale,
    michael kors wallet,
    nfl jerseys wholesale,
    chanel handbags,
    michael kors outlet,
    oakley sunglasses,
    new york jets jerseys,
    cheap ugg boots,
    mbt shoes,
    los angeles lakers jerseys,
    mulberry outlet,
    coach outlet online,
    hollister,hollisterco,hollister clothing,hollister clothing store,hollister kids,hollister co
    hermes belt for men,
    jordan shoes,
    stuart weitzman sale,
    hollister clothing,

  19. swarovski outlet,
    nike sneakers,
    vikings jerseys,
    belstaff outlet,
    roshe run men,
    cheap football shirts,
    true religion jeans,
    chicago bears jerseys,
    ferragamo outlet,
    salomon shoes,
    ghd uk,
    insanity workout,
    north face jackets,
    soccer jerseys wholesale,
    ray-ban sunglasses,
    saints jerseys,
    chicago bulls jersey,
    lebron shoes,
    nike air max 2014,
    dallas cowboys jersey,

  20. Değerli hocam çok teşekkür ederim makalenizi okudum ve bilgi paylaştığınız için cani gönülden teşekkür ederim size

  21. By reading this article many benefits that we can learn. thank you for sharing your insights to us all . boneka full body