The Book Thief is described as a “life-affirming bestseller” in it’s Kindle title on Amazon and I must say, this is very true. The Book Thief is the story of a young girl starting in 1939 as she grows up in Nazi Germany and the stories of those around her as the bombs begin to fall.
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I’ll be honest, I picked up The Book Thief three or four years ago and DNFed it as I think another book came along that I decided I wanted to read instead. Also, my ability to listen to audiobook (well concentrate on an audiobook) wasn’t quite as astute back then so I think I lost interest too easily. However, I’m so incredibly glad I decided to reread this book and finish it this time.
Plot – 4.5/5
The Book Thief follows the story of Liesel Meminger from the point of view of Death itself. It’s a fantastic point of view and as such, some of the narrative moments take an internal look from Death’s point of view including who dies, who doesn’t die, what ends up happening to them and many metaphors for how he takes lives. Liesel loses her brother from a very young age and is forced to move in with two foster parents who at first she despises but whom she grows to love. During her growing up she meets friends, enemies and discovers her love of reading and of books.
The story is utterly fascinating and essentially tells us many smaller stories of Lisel’s life including scraps she gets into, her experiences of the Hitler Youth and the rising of the Nazi regime in Germany, the growing of the war and the huge prejudices towards Jews at the time. I’ll admit, there were moments in the book when the plot slowed but for the most part, I found it utterly enthralling. I loved reading about Liesel’s experiences, her defiant ways, her friends’ rebellious activities and her growing relationship with her “papa”.
Characters – 4.5/5
I loved all of the characters in The Book Thief. Markus Zusak has written some truly multi-dimensional people here. Liesel herself is a defiant, stubborn young girl who learns to trust and learns to love despite never really being given the chance before she moved in with mama and papa. Papa is a wonderful man who sees the hatred in the world and teaches Liesel why it’s there; he also teaches her to read, he teaches her to be kind and he’s always there for her in the perfect way. A true father and a character that Liesel ends up truly and deeply appreciating.
Mama starts off as a horrid character but we soon grow to learn why she is the way she is and she develops as Liesel begins to grow and learn from her. Rudy, Liesel’s best friend throughout the book is great too. At times he often acts as the comic relief from some of the darker moments in the novel but there’s no doubting his deep friendship with Liesel and his love for her. You can’t help but love Rudy.
The Book Thief summary – 5/5
The Book Thief is often brought up on a list of top-book lists and is considered one of the best books you can read. It’s a book that will make you laugh and cry. It’s a book that will have you turning the pages and falling in love with the characters that Zusak has created. It’s not a book for the faint-hearted, but it is most certainly a book I would recommend to absolutely everybody.