The Book Thief by Markus Zusak | Book Review


It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier and will be busier still.

By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down. 

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.

Title: The Book Thief 
Author: Markus Zusak
First Publication: September 1st 2005 by Penguin
Pages: 560
Genre: YA, historical fiction (WWII)
Reading format: Physical book
Standalone / Series


I watched the movie adaptation for this book before and I thought I knew everything about the story but I was really wrong. I haven't learned my lesson from the whole Shadowhunter Chronicles fiasco. I should stop assuming and being a Miss Know-It-All just because I saw the movie adaptation. Experiencing the story again through a book is definitely a more emotionally wrecking and impactful experience especially when I forgot most parts of the movie. 

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I'll start talking about my favourite thing about this book first; the words. This book must be one of the books that are so beautifully written that I could cry just because of how beautiful the words were. The imagery used by Zusak was so great, it made me see colours. He managed to make me feel as if I was there because of his beautiful but imaginable description of everything; the weather, the situation, the vibe and the people. I fell in love with his writing from the very first page.

People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me, it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.

This is not the first WWII historical fiction that I read but it certainly brought me lots of new perspectives. The main centres of this book were, of course, the book thieving, the story of the book thief herself and everyone around her. But I also think that the author managed to grasp the powerfulness of words and the effects it had on the society back then. Mein Kampf (My Struggle) by Adolf Hitler was mentioned for a few times in this book and showed the significance of that book. His propaganda was spread through his book and became Hitler's starting point of the chaos that he caused. In this book, we saw how obsessed the Nazi-supporting people were, how they idolized his words that I didn't think that they didn't even consider doing anything other than what he instructed them to do. The fact that Hitler burned all the book was mentioned in The Book Thief also showed how powerful words are that Hitler himself was scared of words.

One of my favourite things in this book was, also, of course, how layered the characters were. I loved how we got to learn some backstories of beloved characters; Hans Hubermann, Max Vanderburg and Rudy Steiner. Since this book was written in Death's POV, he spoiled a lot of things many chapters way before it happened. Most people don't like this but I kinda like it. I think Zusak made this book for the purpose of breaking the readers' hearts lol. He made me feel anxious the whole time I was reading this and I hate feeling anxious so I don't know why the heck I even liked that haha. AND ROSA HUBERMANN. This precious woman. She was a fierce woman and nothing came out of her mouth without Saumensch (idiot) being one of them. However, I could feel so much love radiating from her. It was obvious that she cared about Liesel, Hans and even Max although she tried not to show it.

A human doesn't have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die.

I adored seeing the relationship between Liesel and everyone around her grew. Her friendship with Max, her relationship with Hans, her friendship with Rudy; all of the relationships she had were so precious and were to be appreciated. These relationships were the things that made the ending way more impactful. To conclude, you all should read this book. Or at least, watch the movie. In fact, I'm going to rewatch the movie after this😉

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Recommended for: Everyone who enjoys historical fiction sets in World War II, a heart-thumping-making-you-anxious read, a book-loving character, a very precious friendship, the relationship between an adopted child to her foster parents, layered characters and beautifully written story.

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