Book Review: The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

Reviewed by Sydnee Griffin, age 16


            The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a novel told from the perspective of Death. The story follows the young life of Liesel Meminger, her foster parents, her best friend Rudy Steiner and the Jewish man she and her family hide in their basement in Nazi Germany during World War II.
            The book begins with a narration by Death who opens the novel with the scene of nine-year-old Liesel and her brother Werner on a train ride to the home of their new foster parents. Unfortunate events take place shortly after the journey begins. Liesel arrives at the home of Rosa and Hans Hubermann. The foster mother Rosa initially screams for Liesel to “get out of the car,” and layers each sentence with German swear words. Hans, the soft natured and gentle foster father tries a different approach and Liesel soon becomes fond of him. Liesel also comes to know Rudy Steiner, her best friend and a the boy who wants nothing more than to kiss her. Attempting to emerge herself in the neighborhood antics, Liesel plays street soccer and earns her freedom from playing the position of goalie.
            Virtues such as patience are highlighted thoughout this book, for example, when Hans teaches Liesel how to read. Families like the Hubermanns and the Steiners both play large roles in the novel by guiding and protecting the children and teaching them how to keep themselves safe in the midst of the Nazi regime. The love given to Liesel by both the Steiners, Hubermanns and other adult figures becomes a big deal for someone like Liesel who has never experienced much love in her life. As she grows as a person, so do her relationships with the characters around her.
            The Book Thief manages to tie common components in life like the mantra “don’t give up” into the daily adventures of a twelve-year-old girl and her friends. The tone of the book makes Adolf Hitler and his rule very apparent in every chapter. This is why they know that the Jewish man hiding in the basement must never be found.
            I think that reading this book that is not narrated by a living character, but by Death, will take readers on a wonderful and tragic rollercoaster of a story. The ride is an enjoyable tale from a serious time in history.
The Book Thief was a really teifrric and wonderful book. I just loved how the plot and the events were set up. I learned couple things from the author as a writer myself. First, you cannot be afraid to put your own thoughts, feelings, or even your ownpersonality in the story because this is your story so make it different, make it you. Another thing I learned was that you shouldn’t ever be writing to impress someone or to make it based on someone’s opinion. If someone doesn’t like it and tells you to add this in or make this happen, you shouldn’t completely change it or add so many things because then it won’t be your story anymore. You can use that person’s opinion to maybe change minor things, but don’t make a tremendous amount. If I were to write my own story, I’d borrow Markus Zusak’s technique of having the narrator be an imaginary or nonrealistic person. The Book Thief is a really great book but there are some improvements I would do to make it a magnificent book. But the beginning could use some help or fixing because I just felt like it was dragging on and on. Also, some parts of the story I was pretty confused on. Although I liked how the author chose Death as the narrator, some qualities of “him” or “her” I didn’t like. Death kept telling us about future events that hadn’t occurred yet, and in my opinion, it had no relevance to what was occurring at the time or made any sense at all, I was completely lost and couldn’t understand anything he was saying. Another thing I didn’t like was that Death kept revealing parts or events from the ending of the story, and in my opinion, that kind of dulled the story a bit. Mostly because some readers could feel that there is no point on reading any further if they have been told and already know what is going to happen, it takes away some of the of eagerness to finish the book. Also it takes away the shock of finding out what happens at the end. Although I have some likes and dislikes of the story, I still highly recommend this book to everyone. – SanmarThe Book Thief was a really teifrric and wonderful book. I just loved how the plot and the events were set up. I learned couple things from the author as a writer myself. First, you cannot be afraid to put your own thoughts, feelings, or even your ownpersonality in the story because this is your story so make it different, make it you. Another thing I learned was that you shouldn’t ever be writing to impress someone or to make it based on someone’s opinion. If someone doesn’t like it and tells you to add this in or make this happen, you shouldn’t completely change it or add so many things because then it won’t be your story anymore. You can use that person’s opinion to maybe change minor things, but don’t make a tremendous amount. If I were to write my own story, I’d borrow Markus Zusak’s technique of having the narrator be an imaginary or nonrealistic person. The Book Thief is a really great book but there are some improvements I would do to make it a magnificent book. But the beginning could use some help or fixing because I just felt like it was dragging on and on. Also, some parts of the story I was pretty confused on. Although I liked how the author chose Death as the narrator, some qualities of “him” or “her” I didn’t like. Death kept telling us about future events that hadn’t occurred yet, and in my opinion, it had no relevance to what was occurring at the time or made any sense at all, I was completely lost and couldn’t understand anything he was saying. Another thing I didn’t like was that Death kept revealing parts or events from the ending of the story, and in my opinion, that kind of dulled the story a bit. Mostly because some readers could feel that there is no point on reading any further if they have been told and already know what is going to happen, it takes away some of the of eagerness to finish the book. Also it takes away the shock of finding out what happens at the end. Although I have some likes and dislikes of the story, I still highly recommend this book to everyone. (2013-11-14 20:31)
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