Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Synopsis: SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION - THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH. It's a small story, about: a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW - DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES.

Pages: 554

Rating: 10/10

Overall:  A beautiful and heartbreaking book that makes you take a step back and remember how lucky we are. Other than the initial slow start, this book reels you in and stomps on your heart in the 
best way. Bring tissues!
The Book Thief

This is another book that I have heard a lot of good things about. People were talking about a major book hangover and it being a beautifully written story. And I think I might have to agree.

The Book Thief is a story narrated by Death. The blurb almost implies an A Christmas Carol-esque story but that is far from the truth. Death is telling the story of a little girl, Liesel, in Nazi Germany, who moves to a town just outside Munich. It's a story about how Death came to be in possession of a book written by this little girl, and a story of how Liesel came to write the book.

It is a rather unique style of writing, with it feeling almost like Death is there in front of you telling you a story in front of the fire. There is a looseness to the writing that was compelling to read, the way it went off in tangents to illustrate points. While reading it, it felt like the words were slipping and sliding their way into your mind, painting a picture as vivid as if you were actually there.

As well as the tone of the story, the imagery and description is quite simply gorgeous. This book is a story of a little girl's journey to understanding that words are the world's most powerful tool; how they can heal and hurt in the same sentence, or raise an army and bring down an entire race at the same time. For Liesel, words almost become living things, that swirl around her waiting to be heard.
The soft-spoken words fell off the side of the bed, emptying onto the floor like powder.
They knock on doors, tap you on the shoulder or sit in the corner waiting to be noticed, but they are always there.

The characters as well were beautifully molded. From mama and papa Rosa and Hans Hubermann, who seem like polar opposites, to Rudy Steiner, the best friend and Max Vandenburg, the Jew they hide in the basement. Each character worms their way into your heart making the end of this book absolutely heartbreaking. 

The fact that this book is set in Nazi Germany adds another layer of fascination. I haven't come across many books that tackle life in Nazi Germany for the ordinary back-garden variety German. How they struggled with rationing, with the harsh realities of living in the Third Reich. It was interesting to see how people thought of Hitler, and in their own ways rebelled against him.

I think the hardest parts to read were the parts about the concentration camps, how the prisoners (mainly Jews) were marched through the streets of towns in front of the populace. It was quite chilling to imagine. 
Whether they watched this parade with pride, temerity or shame, nobody came forward to interrupt it. Not yet.
I suppose I feel like the book actually made me think about that whole side of the war, that German people were as much victims of being caught in the middle as, say, the French or even the British people.

I will admit that initially I found the book slow-going, but as the looming spectre of war, and yes, Death becomes more present, the book really finds it feet and grabs you hook, line and sinker. It is not an easy read in different ways, but definitely a fulfilling one that will stay with you long after you close the book. I don't think I've read, or will read anything like The Book Thief again.

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