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

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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Aug 11, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: wonders-from-down-under, own-a-dtb, amazing-writing, books-that-changed-me, favorites, made-me-cry, reviewed-in-2011
Read from October 21 to 25, 2011

“When death captures me,” the boy vowed, “he will feel my fist on his face.”
Personally, I quite like that. Such stupid gallantry.
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:!/Markus_Zusak/s...!/Markus_Zusak/s...

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Quotes Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Liked

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

Markus Zusak
“Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to 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 51-65 of 65) (65 new)

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Surin Love your review Maja and I agree that "Seven thousand stars could never be enough for this book.". I love the fact that although the subject material is bleak there's always a ray of optimism and hope. :)

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) So true. The more I think about it, the more I realize how very special it truly is. A RL friend of mine just finished it as well (we were lucky enough to get a translation earlier this year so i have a chance to recommend it to my family and friends, unlike so many other books), and she was just as thrilled as I was.

message 53: by CerejaCult (new) - added it

CerejaCult CerejaCult You guys know how mean you are? I was intending to read this book on my VK,, january 26, but you are making it really difficult for me to wait till there,,,


Anushka That's an amazing review Maja!

message 55: by Aura (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aura I think your review is amazing. It speaks to the experience. I also thought this book was an experience that has changed me.

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Thank you! It's quite unforgettable, really. I keep borrowing my copy, and people keep returning it with such high praise!

P-the book nerd Amazing review, I always thought I would never feel sorry for those people... It was nice to get the other side of the story

Shelley I just wrote my review, and am now reading through everyone's. Yours really hit home--so good. I have been thinking about how interesting it is that this is a favorite of mine, yet I did not read it voraciously-- you're right that it felt best to cherish every word and to read it slowly. That's a gift that we owe to this author...

message 59: by Tiffany (new) - added it

Tiffany Robinson Alyssa, thank you for such an eloquent summary. This is exactly how I felt too.

Catherine Nipps I just finished reading the book! The book, the story, the characters, the humor, the language, the God! I'm feeling overwhelmed by all of it...amazing read. I cried like a baby...still am, in spurts. Wow, I'm in so much awe right now.

Loved the review. I completely agree with every word you said :)

Megan Marchant That review was perfect! So much better than anything I could write!

Pauline Midwinter I cried and cried and cried. I carried Liesel in my heart all day.

message 63: by Dr (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dr Rogoe Thanks for the amazing review :) in a strange way, it cheered me up after finishing the book. Thank you

message 64: by Dr (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dr Rogoe Thanks for the amazing review :) in a strange way, it cheered me up after finishing the book. Thank you

message 65: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Tint Thinking about recommending this book to my 13 year old, 8th grade son who needs to read historical fiction for class. In your opinion, would this be too grown up and/or depressing for him?

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