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markus zusak

Books Reviews

Review – The Book Thief, an interesting insight into death

The Book ThiefI was very much looking forward to reading The Book Thief,  it is written by an Australian author Markus Zusak and most interestingly narrated by the character “Death”. It took me a little while to warm up to the narration as Death has a very different way of viewing the world to humans, which is reflected heavily in the narration.

The book has a lot to contend with and there are stories which cover Nazi Germany already, like the boy in the striped pajamas. But what sets this book apart from the rest is the narration. By the end of the book you begin to think that perhaps it is possible that Death does exist. That he does come to take your soul and also what that process might feel like.

As per normal here is the synopsis from the back of the book:

Here is a small fact, you are going to die.
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

 The Book Thief was published in 2005 which I was quite surprised about, but it was the best-selling debut literacy novel in 2007. It has won a variety of awards and was listed in The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks. Even though the book is narrated by Death, the characters stories are still covered fully and in a beautiful way. Before reading the book I had never really considered what Germany must have been like during the Nazi take over. As time went on I found that I was intrigued to find out what happened next, how the inhabitants of Himmel street pushed forward even in such poverty. It really is an astonishing book, great writing but with an unusual style but fitting the narrator perfectly. If you find unusual writing methods tiresome you may struggle for the first few chapters of this book, but continue on and eventually the writing is easily absorbed. I will admit that the first few chapters I was not convinced that I wanted to continue reading, as I really struggled with the narration but now I have finished it I’m glad I did!

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”

I think I was initial drawn to The Book Thief because of the cover, a young girl dancing holding hands with Death. I took the book with me to Italy over the weekend and It was perfect those periods when you need to pass time. I won’t spoil the story for you here, but I do think it’s worth reading and I look forward to now watching the film. If you think you might like to read a book about how a street in Germany coped with tragic events without losing hope, read the book.