The Book Report: The Book Thief


The Book Thief had been sitting on my shelf since Christmas 2010. Any of you who know me will know that this isn’t an unusual thing for a book to do. I bought it with a few others and, for some reason I’m not quite sure of, it lost priority and dropped onto my List of Books I’ll Read Eventually. That is something I regret.

I regret it because when I finally got around to reading it I had, in the few months previous, read several other World War II set/inspired books (Slaughterhouse 5, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, I Am David, and 1984 are all very good reads if you’re looking for that kind of thing), and I started The Book Thief with the thought of ‘not another one…’

It took about two hundred pages for me to leave that thought behind. I struggled through the first half and if it wasn’t for the other members of my book club telling me that I should finish it anyway I probably would have abandoned it. I thought that it was boring despite the beautiful language and unusual point of view.

Eventually the language and the protagonist – the one and only Death – won me over, and the rest of the book was so phenomenal that it was hard not to give it a full ten-out-of-ten rating. In a word, this book is beautiful.

You already know that it’s World War II and it’s narrated by Death. It’s about a girl named Liesel who likes to steal books, her foster parents to whom she meets at the very start of the story, and all of the residents of her new home town of Nazi-run Molching, Germany.

Not everyone will like this book. Zusac has a way of – for lack of a better phrase – spoiling his own book for us. People die, but Death tells us who dies and how, long before they do. On one hand I can see why that would annoy people, and I have to say that at first I was giving the pages a look of disbelief (‘Why would you TELL us that already?!’) like everyone else. But Zusac has a way – and I don’t know how he does it – of making the sense of loss so overwhelmingly sad, despite the fact we already knew it was going to happen.

I think that is what won me over, because we all know that life ends, everyone dies sometime, but just knowing that fact never eases the pain and it always hurts.

You might laugh, you might get annoyed with the author and Death for telling us what’s going to happen, and you will definitely cry. It’s definitely worth a couple of days of anyone’s time. And I mean anyone. I know people who have read this book and loved it despite claiming that they only read Chick-Lit, or only read Sci-Fi, or Fantasy, or Young Adult. You have no excuse.

What book would you like me to review next? 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, The Recruit by Robert Muchamore or Framed! By Malcolm Rose. Email me at CathyDFTBANews@gmail.com and let me know!



One comment

  1. This has got to be one of my most favourite novels… the words are stunning and leave such marks on you after turning the last page. I couldn’t put it down and was the cause of much tears and puffy, red eyes.

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