The Book Thief

Reader Logo
by Mike & Fossfor

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
Publisher: Black Swan

On April 20 - the Fuhrer's birthday - when she snatched that book from beneath a steaming heap of ashes, Liesel was a girl made of darkness.

I'll let Death tell you what this book is about:

It's a small story, about:
a girl an accordionist some fanatical Germans a Jewish fist fighter and quite a lot of thievery and here is a small fact You are going to die.

Yes thankyou Death, I'll take it from here. The Book Thief is all these things and is narrated by Death. It should be depressing, dark and macabre. It's set in 1939 Nazi Germany and its story arc finds anchors along the way in random acts of book theft by Liesel, the main character.

Originally released in Australia as an adult book it comes packaged now in adult or teenager covers - the book world obviously spinning into turmoil because this adult book centers around a child.

In fact the book is a delight. Its prose is poetic, the story absorbing and moving and it manages to deal with great human tragedy in a way that still leaves room for the human spirit to triumph.
And I absolutely loved it. Think a literary novel mixed with Terry Pratchett and the Kite Runner and you'll get an idea of the flavours, or as Death would say, the colours of the book.

Let me give you a trailer first in words and then in the promotional video that went with the book.

Liesel's family has been taken away to a concentration camp. Her brother has died.

Her brother was next to her. He whispered for her to stop, but he too was dead, and not worth listening to. He died in a train. They buried him in the snow.

Liesel's foster father:

"Liesel," he said quietly, "I was never sure if any of this would happen, so I never told you. About me. About the man upstairs."

The bombs begin to fall on her street. A busy night for Death:

Even from the cellar, they could vaguely hear the tune of bombs. Air pressure shoved itself down like a ceiling as if to mash the earth.

The language of War:

Those who remained were firing into the blank pages in front of them. Three languages interwove. The Russian, the bullets, the Germans.

A tear jerker:

"It's such a beautiful day," he said, and his voice was in many pieces. A great day to die.

For The Book Thief's web site click here.
For Markus Zusak's web site click here.

At the age of 30, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today’s most innovative and poetic novelists. With the publication of The Book Thief, he is now being dubbed a ‘literary phenomenon’ by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is the award-winning author of four previous books for young adults: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger, recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney.

Painting above created for TVFH by Fossfor


Fossfor said...

Nice review Mike. I loved this book too.
When reading it, I wasn't sure if it was meant for adults or not. But it is so well written,and I think it's a story you'll never forget and everyone should read.

Jane Turley said...

This sounds a very interesting and unusual book worth reading. Some teenage fiction is just great; I loved Private Peaceful for example.

When there is marvellous contemporay fiction available, I sometimes wonder why the examining boards stick with some of the older classics. Not that I'm against classics for study but many young teenagers are very remote from the likes of Shakespeare, Dickens and Austen. I'd like to see more variety - and a little more catering for teenage boys.

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

This is on my TBR stack for 2009 - now I might have to move it up the pile. Great image Fossfor too.

Paul Burman said...

You got me, Mike. Your review certainly makes me want to take a closer look at this book.