Reader reviews and comments on The Book Thief, plus links to write your own review.

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The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 560 pages
    Sep 2007, 576 pages

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There are currently 75 reader reviews for The Book Thief
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Barbara (11/16/07)

The Book Thief
This is one of the most haunting and memorable books I have ever read. I was extremely impressed with the writer's fluid use of simple words and imagery to evoke dramatic impact on the reader. My book club was almost turned away from the book because of the choice to categorize it as "Juvenile" literature - which I think is a huge disservice to the book and the author. The story is very rich and anything but juvenile.
Cynthia (11/09/07)

Captivating words and illustrations
Since I concur with all the reviews of this book, I wanted to focus on Zusak's use of several literary devices. Rather than chopping at the primary narration of Liesel's and Death's stories, the interjection of these devices made the book read ever so smoothly. First there are the narrator's "sidenotes" - explanations of words or explanations of another character's thoughts. And most importantly there is the inclusion of two stories written by Max for Liesel. I thought "The Standover Man" and "The Word Shaker" best illustrated the human compassion which haunted Death. Absolutely remarkable book.
Nancy (11/06/07)

Sad, Sad, Wonderful Book
It’s hard to believe this book was written for young adults. Everyone should read it.
It’s not just the plot that will draw you into this book. It’s the way it’s written that will hold you just as enthralled. Narrated by Death, colors are used to describe the surroundings as souls are taken up. Within the beautiful words is an ugly world of Nazi Germany during World War 2.

The main character, Leisel, goes through more tragedy in her young life (not short life, for she lives longer than almost every other character in the book) than we can imagine. The theme of the book, while touching on the fate of German Jews, is centered around poor non-Jewish Germans of that awful time. Leisel’s most precious possessions are books she first finds, then begins stealing. She uses them to comfort her neighbors while they are hiding in a basement during the air raids.
SAM (10/25/07)

Why books? Because they hold the words of the world.
This book isn't for everyone, but its premise is. It is a tale of redemption - of why, and how, people are redeemed. In modern time there isn't a better setting than Nazi Germany.

It is mostly for young people, as it is a gentle, almost tender, insertion into the horror that was Nazism and the second world war. Most of the German characters are treated kindly, with full focus on their humaness. It is a measured introduction to the harshness of the stark history of the time for those who are not yet students of it, but is also a balm for those who are steeped in its facts, and who may have forgotten that the predominant stereotype of any group or era reflects only a majority - not an entirety.

Books tie her to almost every character as she moves through her days, and Liesel, the central character, is redeemed many times, by her relationship to the books and the other characters. In life, there is her delivery to responsible step-parents, her relationship to the mayor's wife, Rudy's guidance and companionship through childhood and puberty; in destruction there is her memory of her parents, her acknowledgment of Rudy, her discovery by the LSE, her adoption by the mayor's wife, and even a reunion with Max. In death, she is served well by her history, and by Death.

Almost every other character is an additional example of redemption: Mama, Mrs. Holtzapfel, Max, in the basement, and after the war, Papa, and Ilsa Hermann, who got back her own life helping Liesel.

The book says much more than the obvious, and can be enjoyed by a wide audience, but it is definitely a book best for the audience for whom it was written - the young.
Power Reviewer Gary (09/20/07)

Death and Life
Death is alive. Does that make sense? In Nazi Germany in 1939 and beyond - death as a narrator in the insanity of the times is almost too real; but there's also life! Sometimes depressing, sometimes glorious. Read the book! Laugh, cry, but remember. A great read for everybody.
Gunta (09/20/07)

A Treat !
Fabulous. Insightful. Heartbreaking. Full of hope for the future of that era. A testimonial for the indestructible human spirit. Quite truthful historically as well as in terms of human suffering during that war. I know this because I was there.

This well written, well researched book would be enjoyed by all ages.
Mary (09/20/07)

The Book Thief
I have just finished reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. At first, I was a bit put off by the format...everything was in very short sections, but as I continued, the sections lengthened and I was thoroughly caught up in the story line.

Having Death as the narrator provided a very interesting point of view. We don't tend to think of "Death" as being a "job," but "he" came across as an intelligent, thoughtful being who went about doing what was needed, commenting on humanity as "he" went on about his tasks. I have heard it said by many that they don't fear "Death" itself, but the actual process of dying. Zusak's personification of "Death" supports this concept.

While it is hard for me, as a Jew, to sometimes accept the fact that there were Good Germans during that time period, there were good and innocent people who were caught up in the events of WWII. And, as in all conflicts, the most unlikely people turn out to be heroes and persons of great compassion, understanding and love.

I would highly recommend this books. The characters are all intriguing and there is much more to them that what is immediately present.
Neil (09/20/07)

This is a superlative book that should be read by as many people as possible – from about 9th grade level young people to adults. The author illuminates complexities of human behavior and also helps us to see depths of good and evil that are often missed.

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