Stephen's Reviews > The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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May 27, 10

bookshelves: historical-fiction, audiobook, 2000-2005, world-war-the-sequel, literature, fantasy, ya, darker-than-you-think, love-those-words
Read from May 24 to 26, 2010 — I own a copy

3.5 stars. The first thing I need to say is that it's quite possible that if I were to re-read this book at a later date, I might plant a gushing 5 ***** rating on this book (or at least an enthusiastic 4 stars). The writing is so gorgeous and descriptive that I truly found myself amazed by Zusak's prose. This is a book you could literally pick up and start reading at any page and find a memorable quote or a unique turn of phrase. It's just superbly well written.

The best way to review this is to let the writing speak for itself so here are several passages from the book that demonstrate the high quality of the prose and the wonderful tone employed by the author( though I fear that some of the context and the emotional impact may not come through):
The secret sat in her mouth. It made itself comfortable. It crossed its legs.

The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places, it was burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked across the redness.

She tore a page from the book and ripped it in half. Then a chapter. Soon, there was nothing but scraps of words littered between her legs and all around her. The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Führer was nothing. There would be no limping prisoners, no need for consolation or wordly tricks to make us feel better. What good were the words? She said it audibly now, to the orange-lit room. "What good are the words?"

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.

I do not carry a sickle or 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.

Upon her arrival, you could still see the bite marks of snow on her hands and the frosty blood on her fingers. Everything about her was undernourished. Wirelike shins. Coat hanger arms. She did not produce it easily, but when it came, she had a starving smile.

Okay, so why 3.5 stars instead of four or five? The only answer I can give is that I didn't find myself captured by the story as a whole. I liked the characters, loved the writing and certainly loved the originality of the story. But in the end, I didn't enjoy it as much as I would need to in order to rate it higher. I liked it, I just didn't love it. This could simply have been a result of my frame of mind while I was reading it which is why I leave open the possibility of a re-read down the road.

It is certainly a book I recommend reading.


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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Claudette It's not your frame of mind. It's the writing. It left me cold, although I thought it could be a very good, very emotional book, it just wasn't!


Carol I am usually like you and end up disliking books everyone else loves. But, not this time. I liked this book. I liked the writing style. A lot.

I have a thing for WWII and that is probably why I liked this book more than I usually would. Another thing I liked about it is that I've read many books about that took place during Hitler's rule, but not one that did so through the eyes of German child. I know there are probably tons written, but I just haven't read any. I always, naively, just saw Germans as the enemy, but this book was a good reminder that the average citizens of an enemy country are just as much victims (and even more so, in many cases) as the ally soldiers.


Stephen You make some very good points, Carol. This is definitely one I plan to read again at some point. I loved the writing so much that I am hoping the story will grab me a bit more.


Erin Yes, Stephen, re-read it! (Full disclosure... this is my favorite book.)


Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo This has been on my TBR list for 2 years, now. I think I'll definitely read it in 2012. Nice Review.


Kirby I see that you've also read Slaughterhouse-Five- did this book remind you of that one? I saw a lot of similarities, but haven't found anyone else who did...


message 7: by Anton (new)

Anton Dockel Now Stephen if you found that prose did not gag you, then you would probably LOVE Mein Kampf. The book is so childish, so boring and the characters Sooo unbelievable. (Btw I am still reading, for the Book Club meeting). I still have to get to the preposterous Jess Owens event. It can only be Americans and Australians that still believe that he showed up Hitler's policies to be unfounded. Can the author not get any more subtle? I think the research for this book was poor.


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