Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Title: The Book Thief 
Author: Markus Zusak 
Release Date: March 14, 2006
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers 
Source: Bought 

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My Rating: fullfullfullfullfull

A New York Times bestseller for seven years running that's soon to be a major motion picture, this Printz Honor book by the author of I Am the Messenger is an unforgettable tale about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. (taken from
“I like that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It's probably what I love most about writing--that words can be used in a way that's like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around.” - Mark Zusak 

Every avid reader has one of these books- one that sits on their shelf, gathering dust for years. You don't know why you've never read it, but you've just never found the time. You know it's probably a book you'll love, but for some reason your fingers always brush over the spine without stopping. 

Then, when you finally devour the book, you wonder why you waited so long. 

The Book Thief is truly a work of art. Zusak strings words together like pearls on a necklace. Both beautiful and heartbreaking, the tale will have you admiring both the storyteller's abilities and the story itself. Narrated by Death himself, the book holds a point of view unlike any other. I was immediately captivated by the idea of the all-knowing, morbid personality of Death. That itself was enough to reel me in. With the other lovable, complicated characters, Zusak had me hook, line, and sinker. 

I've always had a strange fascination with Holocaust and WWII novels. Don't ask me why, but I've read dozens of them since I was a little girl. However, many of them blur together after awhile. So many of them are similar, with their depressing plot lines and grotesque depictions of poverty and cruelty. Never have I found one as different as The Book Thief

The novel follows Leisel from her early childhood into her teenage years. At 550 pages, it's not a short read. The storyline is complex, the characters deep, and the emotions poignant. As you can probably guess, Death is ever present in Leisel's world. It definitely isn't an easy read, but the struggle is well worth it. Zusak's tale is addicting. In fact, I read the book in barely two days, despite its length. I fell in love with every character. 

The ending. Oh my goodness gracious, I was a mess. Such an emotional, powerful conclusion. So many of the passages in this novel made me stop and contemplate the world. 

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”

The Book Thief is a novel that every reader should explore. Whether you like historical fiction or not, this book examines the truths of humanity and love and its deepest core. It truly is a masterpiece.