194 of 202 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another humdinger
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...
Published on 14 Mar 2008 by Mr. Peter Steward
133 of 148 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A 'clever' book, but not for everyone
I am ambivalent towards this book. The writing style was definitely unique; I enjoyed the frequent intermissions by the narrator, which gave the story a light-hearted and a nostalgic back-in-your-childhood feel. The ending was particularly well done - poignant, perhaps tear-jerking for many readers.
However, I felt the characterisation altogether a little weak...
Published on 20 Mar 2008 by J. Takata
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194 of 202 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another humdinger,
This review is from: The Book Thief (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. Hans is open with his love and support whilst is wife is softer than she would ever want anybody to know.
There are passages where the book appears to be meandering and nothing much seems to be happening. There is a war on, but it isn't hugely affecting those involved in the story. But then you realise, almost by chance, that it is affecting every character, sometime directly and sometimes in a rather subtler way (if war can be subtle). Then comes a cataclysmic climax that is both sad and uplifting.
This is a very unusual book. It is a delight to read and never stodgy and once again I can only highly recommend it.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, wonderful book w/unique perspective,
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)I picked this book up in an airport on a whim. I liked the cover. It took a couple of months to open it up, but once I did, I could NOT put it down. I (foolishly) took it with me on vacation. I did NOT see the sights, because I stayed in my room all day and all night until I finished the book, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying hysterically.
This book is haunting, beautiful, and moving-but not in a sappy way. My family is Jewish, and suffered loss due to the Holocaust. But lots of people have similar stories, and have told them. They are all important, and moving, but this is completely unique, because it's not primarily about the Jews (though they are in the book).
I have to admit, I have never once thought about what it was like for regular, working class citizens to live in Nazi Germany. Or what it was like for their children. There were other innocent victims of the Nazi regime than the ones who died in the camps. Zusak vividly brings to life these special, imperfect and at the same time PERFECT characters and makes you experience their lives as if they were your own. I felt what they felt, saw what they saw, lost what they lost. And, I finished this book crying like a baby. I cried for at least half an hour. And it was wonderful.
A boy with hair the color of lemons broke my heart the night I finished reading this book. (You will understand what that means when you read it.) But I am glad he did. I would never have known him, otherwise.
READ THIS BOOK!!!!!
211 of 225 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read it!!!,
This review is from: The Book Thief (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.
177 of 192 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of empathy,
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)Sometimes a fictional interpretation of history is exactly what we need in order to be able to come to a real understanding of what it meant to live through historic events, particularly horrific ones. Markus Zusak provides us with a masterful interpretation of the Nazi period of German history from the perspective of ordinary people suffering through it and striving to keep their lives together and their souls alive and kicking within the horrific and ever-tightening boundaries constructed by the Nazi regime. He gives us a gut-wrenchingly palpable empathy for people facing harrowing decisions on a daily basis. His marvelous characters bring to life the dilemmas of those who believe they should help the Jews as well as the equally nightmarish predicament of Jews who through receiving help put others in danger. We see much of this through the perspective of the main character Liesel, who is only a young girl. Her innocence and the gradual realizations she comes to about the events swirling around her in a maelstrom of horror evoke a remarkable empathy in the reader. If you want to understand how the little people cope with such tragic historic events without allowing their souls to be crushed, read this book. Ultimately it is a portrait of the resilience and hope of the human spirit.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A chance encounter,
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)A chance encounter and recommendation of this book at a conference led to me purchasing and reading it. And I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The Book Thief, a young girl adopted by a German family just before the second world war seems deprived of everything except her desire to learn to read. This leads to book stealing and night time readings with her step father whom she adores. The war, when it comes, complicates things especially as the family is hiding a Jew in the basement, but she has extra support from a local boy. The writing style is fascinating, with interjected paragraphs in bold stylized print, making points or emphasising a part of the story. This takes a bit of getting used to but after the first few chapters, I found myself looking forward to these interruptions. It's a very different book but a good story and a good read.
61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)A young girl, Liesel, steals books from a gravedigger at the burial of her younger brother, from Nazi book burnings and from the mayor's library. She lives with a foster family and her father slowly teaches her to read these books. Later, her family hide a Jew to keep him safe. The story is narrated by Death, who I came to respect and admire for his sense of compassion. This book tells of the nasty turns that life can take and how our lives can alter in the blink of an eye, and is about life, love and the power of words. It's the most eloquently written, emotional, yet uplifting story I have read in a long, long while and my ramblings really cannot do justice to the brilliance of this superlative tale
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!,
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)I have just finnished reading The Book Thief and alredy there is a gaping hole where this book has been for the last 3 days. What an unexpected gem this has been.
I had seen this in book shops for months and had picked it up and put it down again so many times that I finally decided to give it ago based on so many positive reviews on Amazon. I'm so glad I did. For the last 3 days of my life I have been immersed in the life of a young German girl during World War 2 and although the book prepares the reader almost from the beginning for what is going to happen I wasn't prepared for the ending to pack such an emotional punch.
The book itself is narrated by Death (not the Grim Reaper image that most of us have, but a figure who roams the world collecting the souls of the newly departed and gently taking them away with him.) Death tells the story of Liesel, a young girl who has been placed with foster parents in a poor part of Munich and we follow her story throughout the war. We are told from the start that most of the characters we meet will die but because we spend so long with them and become so involved in their lives, it doesn't make it any less shocking by the end of the book.
This book is brilliant in the way that it manages to avoid the gory detials of war but involves us in the day to day lives of some of those who lived through it. It is so important that we never forget what happened during that time and that there were so many wonderful, selfless people out there that were prepared to help others.
I highly recommend this book and I'm sure it is one that will stay with me for a long time.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful,
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)The book is outstanding, I was bowled over by it's lyricism and the range of characters. This book made me cry, smile, ponder and debate on the simple power of words and their effect. It made me feel blessed that I could read, fact. Please read it and enjoy!
133 of 148 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A 'clever' book, but not for everyone,
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)I am ambivalent towards this book. The writing style was definitely unique; I enjoyed the frequent intermissions by the narrator, which gave the story a light-hearted and a nostalgic back-in-your-childhood feel. The ending was particularly well done - poignant, perhaps tear-jerking for many readers.
However, I felt the characterisation altogether a little weak - there were very few characters I could care about; many of them appear to be cardboard cutouts of stereotypical personalities. The story meanders a lot in the middle of the book without much really happening and most of the events seem to have no purpose at all. All in all, I don't know what this book wants to be. It doesn't deliver the full atmosphere of what it was like living in Nazi Germany, as I had expected; nor is it a simple idyllic bildungsroman. It is neither happy nor depressing; its target audience appears to be neither for adults nor for children. Many would undoubtedly argue that it is precisely this ambiguity that makes the book so enjoyable; I believe it is a matter of taste whether you like those kinds of books or not.
If there is one word I would sum up the book with, it would be 'clever' - the structure certainly is ingenious and the narration with Death works very well in some parts. However, I do think that Zusak had tried a tad too hard; I felt the basics of a good book - the characters, the plot and writing style - had suffered as a result of pursuing style over content. While some people (as testified by the many positive reviews) would love this book, others will find it is not entirely up their street. Try it, and find out!
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching story of World War II,
This review is from: The Book Thief (Paperback)The Book Thief is the story of a ten year old orphan girl in Germany in World War II.
It is narrated by Death, who adds a wider historical perspective to the particular story of this little girl's coming of age. If this device is a conceit, it works pretty well. After a while, Death is just another character or narrator, with an adult, dry sense of (black) humour. In many ways the use of Death as a narrator reminded my of The Lovely Bones. Readers who enjoyed that book will welcome this one.
Marcus Zuzak handles his themes of loss and love deftly, and the story is made more interesting because it is the story of decent, unpolitical German people, who sometimes do wrong and sometimes do right; a book of moral contingencies then.
The writing is fluid, charming and genuinely touching. This book is highly recommneded.
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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Paperback - 1 Jan 2008)