Maja (The Nocturnal Library)'s Reviews > The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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“When death captures me,” the boy vowed, “he will feel my fist on his face.”
Personally, I quite like that. Such stupid gallantry.
Yes.
I like that a lot.


A few days ago, when I was starting The Book Thief, my mother stopped by and saw the book on my coffee table. Having just read it herself (and knowing me better than anyone else in the world, I might add), she was determined to save me from myself. She did her very best to convince me not to read it. She described in detail the three day long headache all the crying had caused her and the heartache she now has to live with, but I’m nothing if not stubborn. I guess I never learned to listen to my mother.
I’m pretty sure her parting sentence was: “Don’t come crying to me.” And I didn’t. I huddled in a corner and cried inconsolably instead.

Death himself narrates the story about a little girl named Liesel growing up with her foster parents in Nazi Germany. At the beginning, I felt somewhat intimidated by the idea of Death as a narrator. I assumed that his voice would be dark and thunderous, but for the most part, he was a ray of light illuminating earth’s saddest time. Incredibly insightful observations and occasional dry humor are only some of the things no one but Death could have brought into this story. Besides, we hear people calling God’s name every day for many reasons, but when Death calls to Him in despair and even those calls fall on deaf ears, no one can fail to understand the gravity of the situation.

I do not carry a sickle or a scythe.
I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold.
And I don’t have those skull-like
facial features you seem to enjoy
pinning on me from a distance. You
want to know what I truly look like?
I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.



The Book Thief is not one of those books you read compulsively, desperate to find out what’s on the next page. No. It is, in fact, better to read it slowly, in small doses, in a way that allows you to savor every word and absorb the power and the magic it contains. All the while, you know what’s going to happen. Death has no patience for mysteries. However, anticipation of the inevitable makes it even worse. My whole body was tingling with fear because I knew what was coming and I knew that it was only a matter of time.
Zusak found a way to give a fresh approach to a much-told story. He offered a glimpse at the other side of the coin. Really, should we feel sorry for the people hiding in a basement in Munich suburbs? Sure, bombs are falling on their heads, but most of them are members of the Nazi Party, willingly or reluctantly. Some of them truly think that Jews are no better than rats. Some, on the other hand, are hiding a Jew in their own basement. Some are just innocent children. But the more important question is, are we any better at all if we don’t feel compassion and sorrow? Death does a great job of asking all these questions in a calm, unobtrusive way.

I’m not pretentious enough to believe that my clumsy words can ever do this book justice. I won’t even try. Time will speak for it, as I’m pretty sure it will survive for decades and generations to come. The Book Thief and Markus Zusak should find their place in every school textbook all over the world.


Seven thousand stars could never be enough for this book.

EDIT: A few words from the man himself:
https://twitter.com/#!/Markus_Zusak/s...
https://twitter.com/#!/Markus_Zusak/s...

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Quotes Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Liked

Markus Zusak
“Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Markus Zusak
“The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Markus Zusak
“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief


Reading Progress

10/22/2011 page 110
20.0% ""The crowd was itself. There was no swaying it, squeezing through, or reasoning with it. You breathed with it and you sang its songs. You waited for its fire. "" 5 comments
10/23/2011 page 164
30.0% ""In years to come, he would be a giver of bread, not a stealer - proof again of the contradictory human being. So much good, so much evil. Just add water.""
10/24/2011 page 185
34.0% ""The darkness stroked him. His fingers smelled of suitcase, metal, Mein Kampf, and survival."" 11 comments
10/24/2011 page 309
56.0% ""There is air like plastic, a horizon like setting glue. There are skies manufactured by people, punctured and leaking, and there are soft, coal-colored clouds, beating like black hearts.""
10/25/2011 page 446
81.0% "The best word shakers were the ones who understood the true power of words. They were the ones who could climb the highest. One such word shaker was a small, skinny girl. She was renowned as the best word shaker of her region because she knew how powerless a person could be WITHOUT words."" 2 comments

Comments (showing 1-50 of 60) (60 new)


message 1: by Jo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jo Gasp.
Love this book so much.


message 2: by Maja (The Nocturnal Library) (last edited Oct 22, 2011 04:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Oh, I know, I love it already! It's going to break my heart, but then again, hearts are meant to be broken. :)


message 3: by Kathryn (new) - added it

Kathryn I wish I can have the courage to read this book soon... hopefully after reading your review =) ENJOY!!


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Thanks so much, Kathryn. It's definitely not a book you can just fly through and I love it! :)


message 5: by Heidi (new)

Heidi oh I definitely need to read it now. I will be anxiously awaiting your review...


Donna  Happy Booker I LOVED this book. I can't wait to hear your thoughts! I listened to the audio of this and I was a sobbing mess by the end, I could barely hear the narrator!


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Heid, you really do. And I promise I will write one soon. I just need to catch my breath.

Donna, I'm very curious about the audio. It's all very visual, and the artwork really adds a lot to the story.


message 8: by Giselle (new)

Giselle Ooooh. I've heard such good things on this one. I have it at home but unread..


message 9: by Heidi (new)

Heidi I am probably really going to be mad at myself for not reading this sooner. Seriously I got my Kindle in 2008 and that is one of the books I got when I got it. I don't know why it has languished for so long.


message 10: by Ariana (new) - added it

Ariana Another great Aussie book, huh? Can't wait to read it too, glad you like it that much :D


Aly (Fantasy4eva) ADORE this book! I tear up every time near the end. It's definitely special.


Wendy Darling I'm looking forward to this review. :) I love it when you get all moony over a book!


Wendy Darling P.S., I keep checking your profile to see if you've posted it yet in case I miss it in my feed. No pressure or anything.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I still haven't recovered. My own mother took one look at me this morning and said: "I told you so."
Obviously, she read it first.
Jo was right, it is soul consuming. But I don't regret reading it when I did. And I promise to write it tomorow. :)


message 15: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Maja wrote: "I still haven't recovered. My own mother took one look at me this morning and said: "I told you so."
Obviously, she read it first.
Jo was right, it is soul consuming. But I don't regret reading i..."


ok I will look for it tomorrow!


Reynje Just knowing that you're going to review this is making me bounce up and down in my chair and clap in excitement :)


Choco Reynje wrote: "Just knowing that you're going to review this is making me bounce up and down in my chair and clap in excitement :)"

Me too!


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Thank you, my lovelies. It was the hardest review I've ever written. Everything just seems inadequate.


Emily Seven thousand stars could never be enough for this book.

Agree, agree, agree.

Did I mention I agree?

Perfect review. I'm definitely going to reread this book before the year ends.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Oh, thank you, darling! I hear you! I'm tempted to start reading it again right this second.


Reynje Oh, lovely review Maja! You make me want to run straight to my shelves to pick up my copy again.

It's such an incredible book. I can't even begin to image what it must have taken to write.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Reynje, as usual, that means three times more coming from you. :)

It IS incredible. My copy is obviously in English, but I had to go out and buy a translation too so I can make my entire family read it. :)


Shirley Marr Ah, I am breathless. Truly beautiful review Maja to match such a beautiful book

ps - Markus said he cried while writing the last 50 pages and that he just let the tears dry on their own on his writing desk.

*sniff*


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Shirley, thanks so much. :) You are far too kind.

He really said that?! I'm doing my best not to swoon (and failing miserably).
Now if you ladies would excuse me, I need to go read everything the man has ever written. :)


Donna  Happy Booker Wow Maja. I am often astounded by how eloquent you are with your reviews, but this review leaves me speechless. Beautiful review, it really conveys how emotionally powerful this book was. This makes me want to read The Book Thief again.


message 26: by Maja (The Nocturnal Library) (last edited Oct 27, 2011 03:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Thank you, Donna! We should do a huge re-readalong some day and cry collectively.
It's good that we have each other's shoulders to lean on. :)


Shirley Marr Don't think it helps the swoon-factor either, Maja, that apart from being talented and so very kind-hearted, he's also extremely handsome in real life :-) But yes. YES. Go read his other books. They are very different to TBT, but worth checking out.

PS - Hi @Donna, I like your comment!


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I follow him on twitter and I adore how he finds the time for every single person. He really is very kind. :)
Should I start with I Am the Messenger?!


Choco I'm reading it now, and I'm loving it so far!
And it's such a beautiful, beautiful review, Maja!


Reynje Maja wrote: "I follow him on twitter and I adore how he finds the time for every single person. He really is very kind. :)
Should I start with I Am the Messenger?!"


I really, really like I Am the Messenger. It's very different to The Book Thief, but still full of gorgeous Zusak-isms :)


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Thanks, Choco. You ladies will spoil me rotten. I can't wait to read your thoughts about it.

Reynje, yes! Zusak-isms. I think this is the most quotable book I've ever read!


Donna  Happy Booker Maja wrote: "Thank you, Donna! We should do a huge re-readalong some day and cry collectively.
It's good that we have each other's shoulders to lean on. :)"


We should definitely do that!

And thanks @Shirley


Aly (Fantasy4eva) Beautiful review. I felt like I was reading this books all over again as I read this review. I haven't re -read it since, although i will soon - thanks to your review, but I often seek out my favourite passages which are still bookmarked. It must have been so hard for the author to write this book. People I grew to love, die. And maybe I could have dealt with it better if death was cruel, but death in one particular moment has so much regret and pain that it just completely broke me. More people need to read this.


message 34: by Shirley (last edited Oct 27, 2011 04:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shirley Marr @Maja - yes I second Reynje! Prepare for IATM to be different and feel a lot "dirtier", but fascinating all the same :-)


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Aly, more people really do! Fortunately, we can do something about it. That's what I love about Goodreads. :)

Shirley, I love that IATM is so different! Someone with such enormous talent needs to spread his wings and fly in every direction.


message 36: by E.V.Franzmnn (new) - added it

E.V.Franzmnn E.V.Franzmnn Oh my gosh,, I really need to read this LoL

I loved your review,, Congrats =D


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I couldn't agree with you more, Elisandra! Everyone needs to read this sooner rather than later.

And thank you! :)


Jasprit Love the review Maja! As I've said before you're reviews are awesome at capturing so many aspects of the book that I've either completely forgotten or over looked! and your first quote, my favourite quote too :)

After reading you're review I think I need another Zusak fix soon :)


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Thank you, Jasprit! That means so much to me!
Oh, have you read I Am the Messenger?



Could I maybe interest you in a cryalong?!? :D


message 40: by Sandy (new) - added it

Sandy Gorgeous review, Maja.


message 41: by Maja (The Nocturnal Library) (last edited Oct 27, 2011 10:59AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Sandy wrote: "Gorgeous review, Maja."

Thanks so much, Sandy. This book would bring out the best in anyone. :)


Jasprit Maja wrote: "Thank you, Jasprit! That means so much to me!
Oh, have you read I Am the Messenger?

Could I maybe interest you in a cryalong?!? :D"


No I haven't read that one yet, sounds like a plan. Let me know whens good for you :)


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I ordered it from The Book Dep. I'll let you know as soon as it gets here and then wait until you get a copy. :)

Oh, it should be great! I'm sure the book will be even better in good company.


Jasprit Cool I'm going to order mine from Amazon. Can't wait :D


message 45: by Lisa O. (new) - added it

Lisa O. I'd like to let everybody know that I got threatened with death today if I don't read this book. I'll let you guess by whom.


Stephen Wonderful review, Maja.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) By me! I said clearly and I'll say it again! I swear that I'll come over there and shoot you dead if you don't read it and soon.
:D


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Stephen wrote: "Wonderful review, Maja."

Thank you so much, Stephen. This one was very important to me.


Alyssa Gorgeous review, Maja. I've never cried over a book as hard as I did The Book Thief.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Thanks, Alyssa. I know what you mean, it's one of the most powerful stories I've ever read.


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