Positive reviews on book covers actually do influence whether or not I’ll purchase a book. During movie trailers, it rarely works, but if I see the words “I loved it!” by an author or critic I admire or even better: THIS BOOK WAS GIVEN AN AWARD BY PEOPLE — I grab it off the shelf and read the first five pages. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was over-qualified for the first peruse. Not only was it a “New York Times #1 Bestseller” but it was EXTRAORDINARY. BRILLIANT. LIFECHANGING.
Who can pass that up? I had originally seen the book in Target and made a mental note of the title and author. A few months later, it popped up in the clearance pile at Marshall’s. The book was tattered and ripped, but none of the content was any different. For mere dollars, I felt like a book thief myself.
In One Sentence: The Holocaust if you were a thirteen year old German girl and Death/The Grim Reaper was narrating your story.
Favorite Line: “I thought you might be too old for such a tale, but maybe no one is.” – p. 444
Review: This is one of those books where it is genre-d as “young adult fiction” but really only because it is about young adults. The writing is striking, inventive, and fresh. While the place, Germany during WWII, and the narrator create an overall somber tone for the piece – the characters are still very much alive and dynamic. There are moments of friendship and lightness that while making the sad moments EVEN MORE depressing keep the reader engrossed in the story. In the first few chapters, it’s hard to get the hang of the style and voice since you have the omnipresent narrator who can see all (Death) but he has his own take on how to interpret these events. Once we meet Liesel, the young girl and book thief, and become engaged in her story, it’s very easy to follow along. I am excited they made this into a film, but I still strongly encourage movie goers to read the book for its own sake. I think what the film will be missing and what makes the book such a standout is the use of Death as the narrator. It’s interesting to see how he interprets WWII not as time of tragedy, but when he was the most exhausted.
The Book Would Have Ended A Lot Sooner If: Liesel had been adopted by Nazis. Or sent to another country.
In case you are curious: