Asha Seth's Reviews > The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012, historical, 2020, favorites
Recommended to Asha by: Goodreads
Recommended for: everyone
Read 2 times. Last read January 21, 2020 to January 24, 2020.

This is going to be one long but endearing review. But I do hope you read it till the end because it did take serious struggle of the heart and mind to review this one right, and not let my affectionate feelings for this book get in the way. I swear I’ve tried!

Let’s begin, shall we?

There is no one way to review Zusak’s masterpiece of a novel, and yet no matter which way I look, every angle looks right to me. This is the story of Liesel Meminger when she first arrives at her foster parents’ house in Munich, in Nazi Germany. She has suffered a great loss; the aftermath of which will haunt her for years to come. She has also, for the first time, encountered death, but she doesn’t know about it. And she is up yet for the most adventurous upbringing under Hubermann’s roof, expecially with Hanz, her foster father.

Set in Nazi Germany, rooted in World War 2, the unrest arising from Hitler’s ‘Hate Jews’ campaigns is dominant throughout. The cruelty, detention, concentration camps, deaths, uncertainty, mental and psychological suffering, longing for freedom, urge to revolt, suppressed furore, are all rampant throughout the pages of The Book Thief. Married with the impressive writing style, one can easily see through history and feel Nazi Germany and the fuhrer’s reign coming alive in its pages.

The love to steer clear of everything redundant is quite aesthetically achieved by the author by making a loveable character out of a non-human narrator; one loathed, also possibly feared, by all humanity. Death plays a categorical role in putting the pieces together for this book, tying its ends namely pre-war period and the post-war one in Nazi Germany, the birth-ground of our book. It is worth a mention how death can be someone vulnerable, not scary but scared, lost, and overcome with human emotions of love and hate alike us mortals. That spin on death’s disposition stood out for me, and restored my faith that genuinely gripping works might be few and far between, but not totally extinct.

Speaking of characters, you’ll come across many but within the first 50 pages, you know who is going to stay with you until the end. Liesel’s foster parents are worlds apart and yet balance out each other spectacularly under the strained times. Their tenderness outshines anything I am yet to come across in the literary world, although Molly Weasley from Harry Potter gets real close to Roza Hubermann’s character.

Hanz Hubermann is a loving fatherly figure; his devotion to Leisel is overwhelming and moving, to say the least. Very early after Leisel arrives, he finds out about her love for books and book-thieving acts but never does he condemn her. If anything, he ensures she learns to read, and grow her love for books, which as one will see is hardly satiable and would make her THE BOOK THIEF. The head Hubermann is an endearing character for there is much to learn from him. He is someone who would not think twice before putting his life on the line for his loved ones. A savaging yet saluting decision of hiding a Jew in your basement in Nazi Germany is everyone’s cup of tea, you think? Within no time, he stole my heart and stepped up the ladder to become my most favorite character in Himmel Street.

Liesel, our girl, is bold, vivacious, earthly, and impulsive. She is everything a 13-year-old is. But through the plot, she grows from being a nervous, uncertain, grieving girl, to a wonderful young woman. Her character; as depicted through death’s eyes is motivating, and she comes to be the character death personally admires. Apart from these two, Roza Hubermann, Max Vanderburg (the Jew hiding in Hubermann basement) and Rudy Steiner (Liesel’s schoolmate) are the other characters who have noteworthy contribution to the story and ones the book couldn’t do without. They add substantial depth to Liesel’s story and persona.

Writing Style
The writing style is very poetic in approach and the personification factor adds more beauty to the reading experience. Despite the proximity to war and cruelty, the dark theme of the prose exudes oodles of optimism; instead of making one feel depressed. The feelings of unrest and strain live with you only so long and soon you find yourself smiling at some act of courageous vivacity by Liesel or Rudy or Hanz.

This book is a book within a book within a book for all its myriad flavors that wont leave you quenched even at the end of nigh 600 pages. More than the flabbergasting prose style, it is the dormant theme that will shoutout to you for listening in carefully, giving your undivided attention, so that nothing goes amiss. The writing is brimming with brilliance, speaking tonnes of the peculiar flair only a real prodigy can attempt. But that comes from eons of mental ache, from obvious trials and tribulations, resulting in a worded gem that not only demands but deserves patience, perseverance, and also passion to fully appreciate the outcome.

In a nutshell
The Book Thief is about many things. It is about every emotion ever known to man – love, kindness, fear, lust, hatred, rage, and you can throw in some more. But what the book stands out for is freedom in difficult times. This book is no more Liesel’s story than it is about the Hubermanns, Max, Rudy, or death himself. But more than anything, this book is about fights – fighting for survival, fighting for freedom, fighting for the right, fighting for your loved ones. And yet, that’s not all.

After drafting this review, I asked myself, how is it there isn’t one thing I felt amiss and I said to myself, not all books have flaws. Do read this book and tell me what’s your take on The Book Thief.
38 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Book Thief.
Sign In »

Quotes Asha Liked

Markus Zusak
“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Markus Zusak
“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?”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Reading Progress

March 31, 2011 – Shelved
January 3, 2012 –
page 8
January 5, 2012 –
page 22
January 10, 2012 –
page 30
January 11, 2012 –
page 37
January 12, 2012 –
page 43
January 17, 2012 –
page 57
February 2, 2012 –
page 86
February 15, 2012 –
page 93
February 20, 2012 –
page 234
February 20, 2012 –
page 93
May 10, 2012 – Started Reading
May 10, 2012 –
page 112
May 16, 2012 –
page 190
May 17, 2012 –
page 252
May 17, 2012 – Finished Reading
September 15, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012
June 5, 2018 – Shelved as: historical
January 21, 2020 – Started Reading
January 21, 2020 – Shelved as: 2020
January 21, 2020 – Shelved as: favorites
January 22, 2020 –
page 473
85.69% "You spend sleepless yet satisfactory nights reading The Book Thief. ALWAYS."
January 24, 2020 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

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

Sid Lovely review, Asha! The Book Thief was such a touching book. Have you read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr?

Asha Seth Sid wrote: "Lovely review, Asha! The Book Thief was such a touching book. Have you read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr?"

I haven't. But it is on my soon TBR list. Have you read it?
TBT is an all-time favorite. I am rereading it after years.

message 3: by Sid (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sid All the Light We Cannot See is another beautiful book. I'd definitely recommend it, considering how much you love The Book Thief.

Sowmya's book world i feel like reading it again

Asha Seth Sid wrote: "All the Light We Cannot See is another beautiful book. I'd definitely recommend it, considering how much you love The Book Thief."

I shall pick it next then. Anything even remotely close to TBT is a dont-miss for me. I am delighted by the recommendation.

Asha Seth Sowmya's book world wrote: "i feel like reading it again"

Please do. I am almost finishing it today. And I so don't wish it to end.

Bharath Very nice review Asha. I liked the book as well. You would also probably like A View Across the Rooftops which I read recently.

Asha Seth Bharath wrote: "Very nice review Asha. I liked the book as well. You would also probably like A View Across the Rooftops which I read recently."

I added it to my TBR. It sure feels like a deserving catch-up. Your review is good too.

message 9: by Akshunya (new) - added it

Akshunya आखरी पंक्ती में बहुत बड़ी बात कह दी आपने! "Not all books have flaws" बहुत खूब!
शायद यह भी कह देना होगा अब....
"Not all reviews have flaws"
PS: Added to TBR

back to top