I’ve heard a lot about The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. You’ve heard a lot about it too, I’d imagine! I don’t know why it has taken me ten years to read it but I’m glad to have finally been blessed with this book and I’m really excited to talk about it. There are no spoilers here because I believe every single person needs to read this. This review is just pure opinion.
This book is beautifully written, more like poetry than prose. The pathetic fallacy and foreshadowing is incredible. Zusak captures the feeling of fragility where everything can break in war by anthropomorphising everything, for example branches were ‘limbs’ and objects could feel pain. The character building was truly wonderful, there were characters that first impressions told you to not like that became such intricately beautiful, loving people. Their anecdotes were lovely touches, helping us understand their quirks. I was attached to everyone.
The tension that Zusak is capable of building is amazing. I felt as though I was there, hands shaking when the characters risked it all to show solidarity. And how beautifully tragic is it that when you see the worst in human nature, it brings out the best in us too? These characters are real and complicated and brave and beautiful and I love them all.
This book is narrated by death and I love that concept. I especially like that he has a personality and the irony of death finding war torn Germany barbaric. Death foreshadows everything in a way that’s a bit ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. You know that these people will die but you have to keep reading. It’s a car crash you can’t look away from. I think this is because I am so obliged to read about it, to know about it, to remember it. It was an absolute tragedy and we all need to read books like these to feel what it felt like, to imagine the horror and never forget.
There are so many unanswered questions about Leisel and her family but because she gets on with it, you do too. You just keep going like she does. I love that.
It’s so interesting and refreshing to see a book about the Second World War that is very human. Usually, at least in England, the German history is told with numbers and facts to make you reel from the great scale of death but it’s hard to understand that. This is a humanised tragedy. It reminds you that they were people. They were mothers, brothers, sons, lovers.
Equally, we got to experience the other side than the one we learn in school. This book is not about the Jewish, it’s about Germans. Even the ‘aryan’ Germans were afraid during the war. They were in turmoil, not agreeing with the treatment of Jews or the teachings of Hitler but remaining silent in fear. They, too, were threatened and scared. They, too, died or killed themselves.
This book is incredible. I will literally never forget this story for the rest of my life.
Thank you, Markus Zusak. I rated this five stars.
Please get your own copy of The Book Thief.