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on 24 August 2017
I loved every page of this book. So many great quotes, observations on humanity and images...I just didn't want it to end. In fact, the only thing I didn't like was the relative sudden-ness of the last few chapters. However, the great quotes from the characters and narrator were there right to the (very!) end which somehow compensated.

A superb story, written in a unique and fascinating way. I'm going right back to the beginning to re-read it!
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on 16 April 2016
I have absorbed this book slowly, a few pages at a time, putting it down and returning to it when I felt strong enough to read on. I came at it first via the film so the characters faces were clear in my mind. It's a harrowing, beautiful, terrible story. The Book Thief could in many ways be compared to All Quiet on the Western Front taking us into the heart of Germany as war rages around and challenging us to see people like us... People who are not monsters though their actions may appall. Real people who lived and loved and yearned for a future without war, but people living in extra-ordinary times, brainwashed, coerced, forced to act against every normal instinct in order to survive. Everything is turned upside down in such times and places. Acts of love and compassion are punished so what is left? For Rudi and Liesel Thievery becomes a small possible act of rebellion, a way of remaining honest or true to oneself, instinctive, perhaps even an act of sanity in an insane world.

Death is the narrator of the story, a clever device enabling an emotionally impartial and non-judgemental narration that cuts to the heart.

It is interesting that the narrator prepares the reader for what is to come on several occasions. Yet this preparation in no way diminishes the horror. In some ways it intensifies it... Or focuses the attention... Like preparing to visit the morgue to see a loved one... We need to be prepared to say goodbye properly... To be able to let go... To remember. The dead are honoured by our remembering.
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A fabulous book formulated in a way that very much put me in mind of 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas'.

The novel follows the journey of an innocent girl living in the time of Nazi Germany and charts her experiences of war and loss but, more importantly, the slow building horror as she finally confronts the truth about what's happening to the Jews.

Leisel is a great fictional character. The story of her life ufolds at a slow pace and it's fair to say there's a lot of scene setting as Markus Zusak takes great care to develop Leisel's world and the host of characters sharing it with her. The historical aspects read well. There are times when the plot meanders away and I was wondering when we'd get back to the real story, at more than 500 pages there's space for self indulgence, and that's really my only 'niggle'.

There's a fair amount of fantasy running alongside the horror, having Death narrate the story is something I wouldn't have expected, but it works. The spectral figure of Death relating the surreal events of the times adds a great deal of contrast and a real hint of darkness which is beautifully evoked against the loss of Liesel's innocence as the poverty and horror of war creep into her little town blackening the air around her.

The ending is brilliantly done and, like 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, you've read it before the true catastrophe draws you back in makes you think WHAT!.

There are many subtle messages floating around in The Book Thief not least the one of how book burning cannot quell the spirit of a people...especially Liesel. This isn't a straightforward story. It's quirky and unusual. Took me a while to read because parts of the narrative run slowly but I'd recommend it to anyone.
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on 27 December 2016
When I started reading this I thought I was going to struggle with it. I didn't - what I did struggle with was putting it down.

I loved the writing style which others have criticised, I found the grammar to be perfectly acceptable and I loved the characters.

Ok, I cried a tear a few times, but I believe only a well written book can really make you cry - you have to care about something to be able to cry about it.

I loved it. If you didn't, then you have no heart. Your loss.
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on 12 June 2016
Death itself tells this moving story of young Leisel Meminger, a German girl living in a small town near the Dachau concentration camp with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Her friendships, her fight for some sort of purpose or meaning and her passion for words makes her story poignant and uplifting despite the ever-present fear of discovery and the horror of living in Hitler's Germany that Zusak depicts so vividly. Death's narration adds a unique perspective and brings a little depth to each of the characters that surround Leisel, from the mayor's wife, Isla Hermann right though to best friend, Rudy Steiner. A beautifully written tale of hope and humanity.
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on 16 October 2016
This has quickly made its way to my list of absolute favourite books. I am sure I'll be rereading and rerereading this in the future. The characters feel real and the way the story is written would only work in this type of media which is what makes it so enticing to read. Liesel's story as a blonde girl growing up in Nazi Germany is not a wild adventure but a lot of events happen which develops each character and the reader learns with Liesel. The message of the book itself, once I finished it, made me think for quite a few weeks. This is one of the very few books that has made me break from reading other books as it made me replay many of the events in my head. I adore this book and would reccommend it to anyone who likes fictional stories (that could easily be real) in a non-fictional setting.
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For anyone who doesn't know (and hasn't read the summary above), one of the most interesting things about this book is its narrator. Rather than being narrated by Liesel, the protagonist, her story is told through the eyes of Death, who watches Liesel and visits her three times.

This is a really different quirk and Death's narrative voice adds a lot to the story. The book is full of rich metaphors that I think work well because they're told from the point of view of someone who isn't human, or seeing things like us. Death notices colours a lot and describes things in a way we probably wouldn't.

This is a good point and a bad one in my mind, as, while sometimes I think it creates a really beautiful picture of what's happening, other times I feel like I'm trawling through metaphor after simile after metaphor. It all got a bit much after a while, and I sometimes found myself pausing to puzzle over what a metaphor actually meant, which brought me out of the story.

The second world war setting, along with Death narration, brings something very ominous to the story. You know vaguely where it's going to go - not in a predictable way, just in a 'Oh no, awful things are going to happen' kind of way. It also creates characters that you can't help but love in that difficult position. A favourite for me is Hans, Liesel's adoptive Papa who comforts her in her nightmares, teaches her to read and disagrees with the Nazi party, even as he tries to placate them to keep his family safe. It's a complicated situation, one impossible to win really, but he tries so hard to do the right thing.

Liesel herself is a great protagonist - strong, smart, and ultimately flawed in a way that makes her relatable. Sometimes she says awful thing because she is unhappy, she does or doesn't do things she regrets, and that just makes her all the more loveable.

I sometimes found the language a little jarring - often people will say something in German, and then the translation is given too, as if they said that as well. This probably annoys me because I speak German so it was like reading the same phrase/similar thing twice, but when the majority of dialogue is in English it did feel a bit odd.

The ending is a really bitter sweet one. Which is how I often say I like my endings, although this one has a lot more for the bitter and a lot less of the sweet. But there's something about it that makes me not want to describe it as wholly sad. But you shall have to read and judge for yourself, I don't want to spoil anything here!

This is a really beautiful book and you can see why it appeals to adults and younger readers alike, and why it is so internationally read. Reading after such a long time has been like reading it for the first time and I can safely say now it is definitely a book I enjoy, just a little heavy handed with the metaphors for me.
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on 16 August 2015
I Don't want to go into a massive review about this book because there are so many out there.

However, I will give you a brief outline of my reading experience:

I love the structure of the book - the way it's been set out with little asides from Death. Very well done, and the fact that it is narrated by Death gives it such a unique voice. Death is a soulful, feeling character who experiences the devastation of this story just as much as we do.

The characters are all wonderful: I couldn't help bit loving Rudy and Leisel. Even more so, I loved the relationship between Leisel and Hans - the feels nearly killed me. Max was such a heartbreaking character but I think he was definitely my favourite.

And yes, this is a tear-jerker. I finished this book on a slow day at work and had to spend the afternoon fielding questions from my co-workers about why I was crying. You are warned: YOU WILL CRY.

It would have been a 5-Star read except that, for all it's a wonderfully written book that I very much enjoyed; I found that once I had put it down for the day, I wasn't very compelled to pick it back up the next. It took me a lot longer than usual to read this one
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This book has been recommended to me to read for years! However, I never have read it before and I have never seen the film. No one informed me of what I was missing out on. Yes it is a little slow to start with and some of the things Death, the narrator, says are a little confusing and complex but what an amazing book. I absolutely loved it, from the unhealthy interest in WW2 I have, to the love of books which I share with Liesel. Had I have lived in the same times as Liesel then I would have been arguing with her as to who was the person who had open access to a library.

I enjoy the way Zusak uses an inundated amount of historical accuracy in his book. He has used a number of my interests and brought them together in one book! History, WW2 and books. Zusak has created a book which caused me to actually genuinely feel for the characters. This is the first time in a long time where I have wanted the characters to do well in their lives. I have wanted two key characters to realise their love for each other, Liesel and Rudy. I felt for Liesel when she finds out what happens to her family at the end of the story, when you want someone to do well and Death does everything to stop this from happening.

Death, who ironically has a sense of humour, informs us at the beginning of the story that he has three encounters with Liesel during the course of the story. She suffers the death of her brother at the beginning of the story, she experiences a catastrophic event at the end of the story and her own death much later in life. How Liesel was able to cope with what fate befalls her I can never understand. Perhaps due to Liesel's unfortunate past this allows her to handle and cope with the later events of her life. No child should have to experience what she has to go through.

The edition of The Book Thief I read is the 10th Year Anniversary, so there is an interview with Markus Zusak at the end of the story. He informs the reader of his love for Rudy. I absolutely share this love for Rudy. Rudy is a spontaneous, boisterous and loud personality. I love the way he knows what he wants and goes to get it. How he makes his love for Liesel clear from almost their first meeting. He constantly asks for a kiss from her, which she denies him until it is too late. Liesel then tries to share and show her love for Rudy which she has not made known to him. Rudy wants to be a famous runner like his hero Jesse Owens. He even goes to the extent of using coal on his face to blacken his skin. He has the naive approach of not understanding why he can't pretend to have a black face in Nazi Germany.

All of the residence on Himmel Strasse are clear evidence that a large proportion of Germans were not approving, happy or consenting to the appalling genocide which was taking place at the hands of the Nazi's. There are a number of people who believe because the Nazis conducted all of these disgusting atrocities the whole of the German population was consenting. The people of Himmel Strasse were disguised by the Nazis and did not want any part of their proceedings. Yes they joined the Nazi party, yes they went to the Hitler Youth meetings but this was due to their fear of what could happen to them. They also hid Max, an innocent Jew, in their basements, they would try and feed starving Jews during their parades through their town. They wanted what was best for all of mankind and the demise of Hitler would ensure this.

I got really upset at the ending of this story, which is something which has not happened for a very long time whilst I have been reading. I genuinely felt for the characters and I wanted what was best for them. For this I thank Markus Zusak. Thank you for creating something I will read time and time again. This has been one of the best books I have read for a number of years and I will definitely recommend it to everyone. Thank you

Rating: 9.5/10 (due to the slow start)
10-word-review: Amazing, spectacular! Definitely recommend, will read time and time again.

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on 31 January 2016
Absolutely amazing and breathtakingly different story narrated by 'death' about a small girl who is spared from the concentration camps as her father is a communist / traitor (not sure which) and witnesses the death of her brother. She is fostered by a poorer family and on the first night she will not go to bed and is coaxed into settling down by her foster father who then teaches her to read using a 'grave digging' book that she stole at the funeral of her brother. She ends up making friends with a local boy who becomes her playmate and 'wingman'.The book also features the Nazi book burnings in which she steals another book hence the name the 'book thief' It features moving accounts of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, bombings and an impoverished starving Germany and it is refreshing to see this from a German perspective rather than a British one. An amazing page turner that I cannot do justice to in a few lines!
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