The Book Thief is narrated by Death. And when Death tells a story, you really have to listen…
Liesel Meminger is a young German girl, sent to live with two foster parents in Himmel Street. Follow her as she grows up, learning about life and what it is to live under Nazi rule in World War Two. Join her as she meets new people, learns new things, and most importantly, steals a book or two.
“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
I can honestly say that this is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. You know that feeling when you don’t have the words to describe something? Markus Zusak always does. He can capture the most indescribable feelings by using an incredibly abstract metaphor that just works every time for some indescribable reason. It is honestly worth the read just for the this, but rarely do you get a book so rich in plot and fantastic writing combined.
Although it is very different is plot, I feel like The Book Thief employs similar methods to the recent movie Boyhood. What that film did so well was make great use of the long runtime. By showing you the little things that happen to these children in their everyday lives, you ultimately feel like you’ve known them forever by the time the movie ends. The Book Thief took me a good one and a half to two weeks to finish, which is a lot for me, but I feel like that didn’t detract from my enjoyment. It’s meant to be read slowly, and the scenes depict the small things that Liesel and Rudy (her best friend) get up to, instead of being filled with massive plot twists. At the end, when all was said and done and I’d got through the over 500 pages of this book, I felt like I’d known Liesel and Rudy and Hans and Rosa all my life.
This book is narrated by Death. Not something you’ve seen before, right? This could be done really well or fail miserably, bit obviously with a genius like Markus Zusak involved, how could you go wrong. It genuinely amazed me that over 500+ pages of writing, the tone of our morbid narrator was never lost. It was always incredibly distinctive and present. Seriously, how long did this book take to write? It feels like Markus Zusak spent a day in each paragraph, meticulously crafting and honing it to perfection.
As for negatives, there really aren’t many. I supposed there are some boring parts, but everything involved I felt was necessary, to build up the impact of the story. And it was very impactful. The ending was incredibly powerful, and if you are a book crier, this will be no exception. I love the conclusion to this story, because even though it made me feel strong emotions and sadness, I like that because it tells me the story is effective. And it felt like everything that happened was meant to happen. Everything was wrapped up perfectly and it was the memorable ending that these characters deserved.
And they were great characters. They were clearly thought out in depth and lovingly crafted. They had some flaws, thought not many (most were from Rosa), but they were all incredibly loveable, and become a part of your life when you’re reading about them, and stick with you for a while after.
I’m not usually a huge historical fiction fan, but I loved this book. It feels so monumental and important, can truly be described as an epic, and I would recommend this to anyone who loves literature. 5/5 stars of course.