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The Book Thief Paperback – 1 Jan 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (1 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552773891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552773898
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,674 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Markus Zusak, a prize-winning children's author, lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and young daughter. At the age of 30, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today's most innovative and poetic novelists. With the publication of The Book Thief, he is now being dubbed a 'literary phenomenon' by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is the award-winning recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature.

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak was the best-selling debut literary novel of the year 2007, selling over 400,000 copies. The author is a prize-winning writer of children's books, and this, his first novel for adults, proved to be a triumphant success. The book is extraordinary on many levels: moving, yet restrained, angry yet balanced -- and written with the kind of elegance found all too rarely in fiction these days. The book's narrator is nothing less than Death itself, regaling us with a remarkable tale of book burnings, treachery and theft. The book never forgets the primary purpose of compelling the reader's attention, yet which nevertheless is able to impart a cogent message about the importance of words, particularly in those societies which regard the word as dangerous (the book is set during the Nazi regime, but this message is all too relevant in many places in the world today).

Nine-year-old Liesel lives with her foster family on Himmel Street during the dark days of the Third Reich. Her Communist parents have been transported to a concentration camp, and during the funeral for her brother, she manages to steal a macabre book: it is, in fact, a gravediggers’ instruction manual. This is the first of many books which will pass through her hands as the carnage of the Second World War begins to hungrily claim lives. Both Liesel and her fellow inhabitants of Himmel Street will find themselves changed by both words on the printed page and the horrendous events happening around them.

Despite its grim narrator, The Book Thief is, in fact, a life-affirming book, celebrating the power of words and their ability to provide sustenance to the soul. Interestingly, the Second World War setting of the novel does not limit its relevance: in the 20th century, totalitarian censorship throughout the world is as keen as ever at suppressing books (notably in countries where the suppression of human beings is also par for the course) and that other assault on words represented by the increasing dumbing-down of Western society as cheap celebrity replaces the appeal of books for many people, ensures that the message of Marcus Zusak’s book could not be more timely. It is, in fact, required reading -- or should be in any civilised country. --Barry Forshaw

Review

"Extraordinary, resonant and relevant, beautiful and angry." (Lisa Hilton Sunday Telegraph)

"...a beautifully balanced piece of storytelling...Unsettling, thought-provoking, life affirming, triumphant and tragic, this is a novel of breathtaking scope, masterfully told. It is an important piece of work, but also a wonderful page-turner." (Guardian)

"A moving work which will make many eyes brim." (Marianne Brace Independent on Sunday)

"This is a weighty novel worthy of universal acclaim. A sense of dread prevades this beautifully written novel. As The Book Thief draws to a close, Death says: "There's a multitude of stories that i allow to distract me as I work." The story of the Book Thief, who tried to change the world in her own small way, proves one formidable and inspiring distraction." (Lianne Kolirin The Daily Express)

"Brilliant and hugely ambitious ... the kind of book that could be life-changing" (New York Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

365 of 379 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Peter Steward TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Mar 2008
Format: Paperback
I really can't believe that in the first three months of the year I have come across three gems in "A Thousand Splendid Suns," "A Quiet Belief in Angels" and now "The Book Thief." Each of these books is different but they are all stunning in their own individual way.

The Book Thief is highly original, although it did remind me somewhat of my book of the year for 2007 "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas." The subject matter for both books is the Nazification of Germany. Both books look at things from the perspective of a child growing up in the most turbulent of times and both have a child-like simplicity that just adds to their powers.

The Book Thief is a beautiful book from start to finish. Indeed at times it is more of a scrapbook of a life than a novel. It has a strangeness that only enhances the subject matter. For a start it is narrated by death. But this never detracts from the shape or power of the novel as young lives are slowly ripped apart in a German Town where poverty is rife.

The central character Liesel has a beautiful calmness of spirit. She always seems to be on the verge of re-alisation whilst still retaining the fragility of childhood. Slowly and gradually the evil unfolds before her as she becomes aware of the fate of the Jews in a town where she is thrust as an unwilling refugee.

In her adopted father Hans Hubermann, Zusak has created one of those unforgettable men of strength and kindness. At first when Liesel is thrust into the Hubermann household I was expecting a hard-hearted couple keen to take the small amount of money that Lisel brings with her but not so keen to give her the love that she craves. Nothing could be more from the truth.
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279 of 297 people found the following review helpful By A. Hope on 22 Feb 2008
Format: Paperback
I am not sure how to describe this book - without either giving too much away - or making it sound depressing and grisely which it is not at all. Suffice to say this is a novel narrated by death. It is the story of a young girl living in Nazi Germany, who goes to live with a foster family,and learns to read, and falls in love with: books, her new Papa, a boy called Rudy, and a Jew hiding in a basement. It is also a story of WW2 - from a persepective we don't often see - ordinaary Germans - some of whom were members of "The Party."

Death takes the reader by the hand, and leads us through the lives and deaths of people in Liesel's world, he kind of "gives the game away" a few times - and yet that never spoils it - it prepares the reader for what's ahead.
This is an astonishing book - the writing is great - an unusual style - but one that fits perfectly somehow with the voice of Death - and that of the unforgettable Liesel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Leversuch on 13 Aug 2008
Format: Paperback
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Amazon synopsis:
1939 - Nazi Germany - The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall. 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.

I loved this book, I'm recommending it to everyone!!

It is a long book, of 550ish pages, but well worth the read, and even has pictures in the book! It is incredibly easy to follow and I liked how the pages were often broken up with some asides and important notes.

I think my favourite part was the fact the book was narrated by Death, who had some very funny one-liners. Death was also my favourite character, he was portrayed in a new, almost sensitive way, which I loved. And he had a great sense of humour.

The book had me gripped from the beginning and was full of twists and turns. I was nearly in tears at the end of the book, it was so sad, but I was thoroughly satisfied by the ending.

I loved all the characters, some had me cringing, some had me laughing, some I just loved and wished they were real.

This is historical fiction, but I had no reason to doubt the history in the book, with the concentration camps and the Munich bombings.

9/10, an excellent book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ingaborga on 1 Jun 2008
Format: Paperback
The eponymous book thief is Liesel Meminger, a young girl whose mother takes her to Munich to live with a foster family on the eve of the Second World War. On the journey to Munich, two things happen. First, her brother dies. Second, Liesel steals a book at his graveside - a manual for grave diggers. Not the most appropriate of texts for a twelve year old girl, but it awakens in Liesel a love of books - and perhaps more importantly, a skill for stealing books.

The Book Thief is narrated by Death, who tells the story of Liesel, her family and her friends. The narrative style has a lightness of touch that is pleasantly surprising given the weight of the subject matter. The characters are vividly drawn, rough and occasionally brutal yet each of them capable of acts of great tenderness, generosity and love.

If I had to find fault with this, it would be the occasionally clunky use of a German phrase followed by an English translation, but overall, this is a wonderful book, and I defy anyone not to be moved by it.
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