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The Book Thief Paperback – September 11, 2007
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“Brilliant and hugely ambitious…Some will argue that a book so difficult and sad may not be appropriate for teenage readers…Adults will probably like it (this one did), but it’s a great young-adult novel…It’s the kind of book that can be life-changing, because without ever denying the essential amorality and randomness of the natural order, The Book Thief offers us a believable hard-won hope…The hope we see in Liesel is unassailable, the kind you can hang on to in the midst of poverty and war and violence. Young readers need such alternatives to ideological rigidity, and such explorations of how stories matter. And so, come to think of it, do adults.” -New York Times, May 14, 2006
"The Book Thief is unsettling and unsentimental, yet ultimately poetic. Its grimness and tragedy run through the reader's mind like a black-and-white movie, bereft of the colors of life. Zusak may not have lived under Nazi domination, but The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel's Night. It seems poised to become a classic."
- USA Today
"Zusak doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but he makes his ostensibly gloomy subject bearable the same way Kurt Vonnegut did in Slaughterhouse-Five: with grim, darkly consoling humor.”
- Time Magazine
"Elegant, philosophical and moving...Beautiful and important."
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"This hefty volume is an achievement...a challenging book in both length
- Publisher's Weekly, Starred
"One of the most highly anticipated young-adult books in years."
- The Wall Street Journal
"Exquisitely written and memorably populated, Zusak's poignant tribute to words, survival, and their curiously inevitable entwinement is a tour de force to be not just read but inhabited."
- The Horn Book Magazine, Starred
"An extraordinary narrative."
- School Library Journal, Starred
"The Book Thief will be appreciated for Mr. Zusak's audacity, also on display in his earlier I Am the Messenger. It will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures. And because there's no arguing with a sentiment like that."
- New York Times
About the Author
Markus Zusak is the author of I Am the Messenger, a Printz Honor Book and Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist, and the international bestseller, The Book Thief, which has been translated into over thirty languages and has sold nine million copies around the world. He is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens and lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and children.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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As the old proverb—old but still true for all its rusty years—would tell us, ‘The book is far better than the movie’. This has never been more true than with Markus Zusak’s phenomenal achievement.
The book is narrated by Death, the Grim Reaper. Yet he is not an evil presence, indeed his tender observations are endearing. In the end, the circumstances of 1940s Europe keep him far busier than he’d prefer. Yet he cannot take his eyes off these dismal, glorious humans.
They haunt him, these human beings do. He sees such majesty in them, and such cruelty. The circumstances that call him into hard labors allow him to peer into the human condition at its best and, simultaneously, at its best.
He cannot look away from them, these horrible, beautiful, haunting beings.
This reader revels in the deeply biblical substratum of this compelling novel, whether intended by its author or not.
The best book I’ve read in a year. And I’m hardly alone, for this work has virtually nailed itself to the top rung of the New York Times Bestsellers List. As another old proverb might have it, 50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong.
Buy it, read it, remember it when you least expect.
If you follow my blog at all, you know that I love WWII era historical fiction. What I loved about this book is that it showed the lives of average Germans during the war. That's not a perspective I've seen a lot (or ever that I can think of off the top of my head). But Liesel's foster family wasn't exactly average either because they held unfavorable opinions about Jewish people, at least unfavorable by German standards during the war.
Another highlight of this story was that it was told from the perspective of Death. It was a bit odd to get used to at first because he jumped around a bit, as Death is wont to do in the course of his work, but once I got used to it, it was a fun way to see things. While death isn't exactly omniscient, he does have access to information that a human narrator wouldn't have.
I realize that I'm late enough to this party that you've probably already made up your mind about whether you want to read this book or not, but if you're still on the fence about it, you should absolutely not wait any longer. You're likely to regret it if you do, like I did.
Overall I give The Book Thief 5.05 stars.
The writing style is uniquely written from Death's omniscient point of view so of course, there was a lot of death. Well done though; not melodramatic.
I've read many, many books about WWII, and the holocaust. I think this is the first one I've read that touched on the plight of the German people, Nazi, and non-Nazi.
I appreciated that the author gave Death feelings, including a sense of humor. This line, among others, cracked me up, "For some reason, dying men always ask questions they know the answer to. Perhaps it's so they can die being right."