Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Which in turn brings me to the subject I am telling you about tonight, or today, or whatever the hour and color. It’s the story of one of those perpetual survivors–an expert at being left behind.
It’s just a small story really, about, among other things:
* A girl
* Some words
* An accordionist
* Some fanatical Germans
* A Jewish fist fighter
* And quite a lot of thievery
I saw the book thief three times.
Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.
Read an excerpt

During World War II, Death is working overtime, but a girl named Liesel Meminger–the book thief–catches his eye. He tells her story–the story of a young German girl who loves books.

I don’t know why I resisted reading this story. Sometimes I think I get turned off by books that have rave reviews and have won awards. They’ll be too literary. Or somehow trumped up to be more than they are. Well, with this book…I was wrong.

I do admit, I nearly put it down after the first couple chapters. (Though now that I go back and read them, they’re fantastic.) I read with a sense of duty. I needed to know what the hype was about. But after that, I got sucked in.

For me, this book was all about the people. I came to love the characters. I cried more in this book than I have in many a book. This was more than just a few tears. I was crying my eyes out. Because I loved the people. I loved their small victories, their ability to keep their humanity in a time when it seems many people forgot it. The subject-matter gives the book an automatic “Sad” sticker, but I think Zusak went above and beyond in connecting the reader to his characters in such a way that the sadness comes the most when you lose characters you love.

I’m not sure how many teens would read this book for “fun.” It doesn’t have the same feel as most teen novels. In fact, it feels like something I would’ve read in a high school classroom. I hope though that even if kids are reading this in school that they can still enjoy it. When it comes to WWII fiction, I think this one should be at the top of the list. It’s phenomenal.

*news about the book thief*

Author connect: Website
Sequels: None
Similar books: Annexed: A Novel by Sharon Dogar; Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

UPDATE: See my post about getting to listen to and meet Markus Zusak here.


*for writers*

Agent: Fiona Inglis from Curtis Brown Australia

A Page from Markus Zusak’s Book: Zusak does a phenomenal job at making characters real but incredibly endearing. Take a look at how he characterizes Rudy and Leisel’s Papa in particular.


About Karen Krueger

I write for teens when I'm not chasing after two cute kids. I love to sing and eat cereal (though not at the same time), and I most certainly am not a vampire because I'm addicted to sunshine.
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4 Responses to Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  1. Cherylynne says:

    You know, the way I usually “sell” it to teens is by telling them that Death is the narrator…that little twist, which makes us such a small portion of the actual book, is enough fantasy to make a lot of them pick it up. Interesting example of something that could have been taken out, plot wise, but couldn’t be taken out for its commercial value.

  2. Liz Hales says:

    I am often disappointed by much-hyped books as well (most recently, The Help) so I also tend to avoid them. So glad I didn’t do that with The Book Thief, though, because it is one of my favorite books EVER! I’m glad you liked it. The writing was absolutely beautiful.

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