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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 13,609 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 17,243 reviews
on June 17, 2017
With a heart full to overflowing and eyes quite moist, I finish this novel of a young waif of a girl in Hitler’s Germany whose body, soul, and spirit ought never have survived her furnace of affliction. Yet survive she does, grittily and even poetically, with the aid of a good friend, a tender father, a Jewish refugee in the basement, a mother whose harshness runs only skin keep, and a traumatized mayor’s wife who loves to have her books stolen.

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.
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on January 23, 2017
I LOVED this book. We started listening to the audio version in the car before I bought the paperback. My son is an audio learner, so we are constantly looking for books to listen to. We had recently listened to another WW2 book told from a kid's perspective. This was recommended to us, but we were warned the content was much more mature than the first book, even though it is also focused on a "child". While that was true, it wasn't a bad thing. I really enjoyed the narrator for the audio book, and I am quite picky. I ended up buying the paperback because I couldn't stand to wait to see what happened since I only listened with my son in the car. I was enjoying it enough to think it was worth the purchase. I'm glad I bought it. It is "heavy" but I did fall in love with the characters and know I'll be revisiting it again and again. One thing that I found unique about this book was that it was told from the view of "death", or maybe a grim reaper...but it is not in any way fantasy. Looking back, I can't imagine it being told from any other perspective and I'm so glad the author seemed to realize that too.
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on June 1, 2017
Enter The Book Thief. She made an impression on me, this book, when I read her in 2014. It is a quiet book. A gentle book. A large, heft of a book. But, still it pressed down on me and left its mark. Zusak has a way with words that reminds me of a snake charmer. It's hypnotic in its simplicity. He can take a simple scene, break it down to geometry, substance, and color, and some how in that description, with Death as the narrator, the beauty is apparent. Even the beauty of the ugly and tarnished. He is a word shaker, too.

The story of Liesel Meminger is, perhaps, not a unique one. Anne and her diary, of course, came before her, and Anne was real where Liesel is not. And yet, Zusak brings her to life, inflated with the lives of all the others who were real and like her. Anne is in there. The Book Thief reminds us that we are all human, we are all good and bad, we are all, essentially, waiting for Death to come for us, too.
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on June 25, 2014
This book made me feel empty in a way that only truly beautifully written books can. When I finished reading the last word on the last page of this book, I felt empty; there is a paradoxical mix of feeling incredibly saddened that the book is over but also completely satisfied because the ending was the best ending you could have ever hoped for and more. Together, those feelings left me feeling empty and breathless. It's amazing that words can be strung together on bound pages can make you feel so strongly, but that's what great books do. And this is, without a doubt, a truly great book.

I won't go over the plot because many reviewers have done so already, but I will tell you this: The Book Thief was one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read in my entire life. Death's point of view is hauntingly sophisticated. This is one of my favorite quotes, "A SMALL PIECE OF TRUTH: 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.”

There are so many amazing layers to this book. I love the fact that it's a book about a book thief. I love how books are mile markers in her life, and how she herself can barely control the love and hate she feels for the power of words. I love the impact books have had on her life. The love that the characters have for Liesel is truly moving. The love that she has for them is heartbreaking in the most astounding way. This is a fictional book, but it's very much a true and honest look at humanity in its finest moments and its worst moments. It's as if Markus Zusak studied the human soul and was able to articulate its many range of feelings: love, grief, regret, relief, wonder, and everything in between.

This is a book that stays with you long after you are done with it. It took me ages to write this review because I wanted to do the book justice. I will end with another one of my favorite quotes from the book. “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
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on October 20, 2013
I just finished reading this book and I wanted to rush here to write down my thoughts but now I realize that there are too many to summarize in a simple book review.

Many have said this about "The Book Thief" but it is truly an endearing story. Throughout the entire book, I kept thinking to myself, how can the same species of human beings be so absolutely dreadfully evil and also be so strong, brave, hopeful, and loving?

The evil side of humanity was shown, obviously, in the power plays of Hitler shown not primarily through a Jew's point of view like a lot of Holocaust/WWII stories but from the point of view of a living-in-poverty German family who were also victimized by Hitler, obviously in a different way but stricken nonetheless.

The hopeful and loving side of humanity was shown not in the obvious ways. But in the way that Liesel and Rudy always stood by each other no matter what even while throwing insults at each other. In the way that Hans embraced a girl as his own daughter without question. In the way that the mayor's wife indirectly gave Liesel her most treasured possessions and, eventually, a safe place to grow up. In the way that a little German girl connected with the Jewish young man hiding in her basement and created a bond of souls that surpassed words (though ironically created by words themselves through books).

And although the subject of this book was very heavy and dark, there were moments that made me laugh. Not because the circumstances were funny, but because of the things the characters would say in such circumstances. For example, after Liesel and Rudy steal a plate of cookies, their most pressing thought is, "What are we going to do with the plate?"

But there are 2 lines in this book that are so profound and will stay with me forever. The first line serves as a wonderful example of how artfully Markus Zusak wrote this story. The book is narrated by death and at one point death says, "It kills me sometimes, how people die." What an interesting and ironic line. Even death itself can be shocked at how people die. I would like to think that if death was a personified being, he really would say something like that.

The second line is the last line of the book. We readers are concluded with death's last note, "I am haunted by humans." As this beautiful, tragic tale comes to an end, I too am haunted by humans--the characters of this story.

Read this book.
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on March 21, 2015
Outstanding and Haunting Story of a young girl in Nazi Germany. I won't discuss the content, only how the book is told from the point of view of Death. I enjoyed watching the author's video here on amazon. I read the book a few years ago and I kept the book. Most fiction books I donate to my library or turn them to a consignment store. As a WWII biographer, I have a comprehensive library of books that I won't give up - this book is one of them. In my travels in Germany, I've listened to many stories of German veterans and their families and friends. If you can even get people to talk that is. I don't insist, but the horror of war still lurks. The horror of destruction of all that one has built - safety in homes - safety in trusting one's police - trusting in one's government - this didn't exist in Nazi Germany. It was Fear, prevalent fear. An incredible book in a story that I'll never forget.
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on January 10, 2014
I blame THE BOOK THIEF for stalling my reading. After I finished, I just couldn’t get into anything else. Nothing had the passion, heart, perspective, and “umph” that THE BOOK THIEF has. (Thankfully, THE ART OF RACING THE RAIN got me back on track.)

There is no shortage of holocaust-themed books. Really, there’s no shortage of excellent holocaust-themed books (Anne Frank, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Pianist, Night, and Maus are just some of the amazing books on the subject). However, THE BOOK THIEF must be added to the list of greatness. This book provides a unique perspective by giving Death the role of narrator. Throughout the book, we are given the perspectives of Communists, children, Germans, and Jews. It makes it a well-rounded journey.

There will be tears, some sad, some happy.

I wanted to wait until I saw the movie to write this book review, but I still haven’t seen it yet. I heard it’s great, but just from what I’ve seen in the movie trailers, many key ingredients have been changed. Without giving away too many spoilers, the relationship between the young girl and young boy aren’t quite the same, mostly in regards to the knowledge exchanged between them.

PROS: amazing read—500 pages flew by
CONS: hard to enjoy other books after this one
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on September 11, 2016
What a wonderful story of Germany before and during the World War II years. Our main earthly character is Liesel a young German girl who's brother dies as they are heading to their adoptive parents in a rural suburb of Munich. From there we follow Liesel as she develops and becomes literate with the help of her adopted father, her curiosity and nimble fingers.

It's a wonderful story narrated by the Grim Reaper who adds background and describes for us the horrors that young eyes might be seeing at the time. The characters are so well developed you'll feel you know them.

It's hard to give such a wonderful book credit through a review. Just look at the high rating this book has across the span of, at this time, 18 - 19,000 reviews. It's standing the test.
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on May 6, 2014
After watching the movie, I hesitated in reading the book. The movie was great, but it was to me a different story. Zusak's characters were not black and white people, which I found interesting and as an adult I could understand both Liesl's POV and a grown up perspective. Why the movie chose to make some of the people seem more like the bad guys I don't understand. I was able to see many different types of people were not the devout Nazis they were supposed to be and Death's views on humanity instead of the whole right and wrong issues were both interesting sections to me. I wasn't prepared to feel compassion for anyone who was a Nazi, even if they were only a fictional character.

This isn't the first time I've read Death as a character and often I find Death is as involved with the humans in the story as I, the reader, am. I suppose it's a bit like bird watching, I enjoy all the birds and even though they squabble amongst themselves I am an outsider and therefore don't feel as passionately about what happens between them. I can appreciate each one and find beauty in all of them. Death is a lot like this in The Book Thief.

I wasn't quite sure about the ending of the book, Liesl's end of life left many questions for me. I tried to piece what I saw in the movie and match it up with the book, but am not sure if that's how Mr. Zusak saw it. This was a hundred times better than the movie and I loved the movie.

This book is appropriate for both older children and adults. I think children should discuss the book with an adult after they've read it, because the whole WWWI and WWWII topic is something that should be talked about frankly and openly.

Great job Markus Zusak!
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on April 27, 2017
I'll admit it, I saw the movie first. After seeing it I went straight to the library and borrowed the book. I have always been meaning to buy it, and when I saw this unusual cover art I knew that I had to have it.....the image of Liesel dancing with Death is a very powerful one. The book itself is a fast read, but there are times when you just have to stop for a minute and take it all in (good times and bad). It's heart-wrenching though, so although I don't read it often I do think that it is a very well-written novel, and it is one of my favorites.
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