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Product Description

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S 100 BEST YA BOOKS OF ALL TIME

The extraordinary, beloved novel about the ability of books to feed the soul even in the darkest of times.


When Death has a story to tell, you listen.

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

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
 
“The kind of book that can be life-changing.” — The New York Times
 
“Deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.” — USA Today

DON’T MISS BRIDGE OF CLAY, MARKUS ZUSAK’S FIRST NOVEL SINCE THE BOOK THIEF.

Review

“Brilliant and hugely ambitious…Some will argue that a book so difficult and sad may not be appropriate for teenage readers…Adults will probably like it (this one did), but it’s a great young-adult novel…It’s the kind of book that can be life-changing, because without ever denying the essential amorality and randomness of the natural order, The Book Thief offers us a believable hard-won hope…The hope we see in Liesel is unassailable, the kind you can hang on to in the midst of poverty and war and violence. Young readers need such alternatives to ideological rigidity, and such explorations of how stories matter. And so, come to think of it, do adults.” - New York Times, May 14, 2006

"The Book Thief is unsettling and unsentimental, yet ultimately poetic. Its grimness and tragedy run through the reader''s mind like a black-and-white movie, bereft of the colors of life. Zusak may not have lived under Nazi domination, but The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel''s Night. It seems poised to become a classic."
- USA Today

"Zusak doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but he makes his ostensibly gloomy subject bearable the same way Kurt Vonnegut did in Slaughterhouse-Five: with grim, darkly consoling humor.”
- Time Magazine

"Elegant, philosophical and moving...Beautiful and important."
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"This hefty volume is an achievement...a challenging book in both length
and subject..."
- Publisher''s Weekly, Starred

"One of the most highly anticipated young-adult books in years."
- The Wall Street Journal

"Exquisitely written and memorably populated, Zusak''s poignant tribute to words, survival, and their curiously inevitable entwinement is a tour de force to be not just read but inhabited."
- The Horn Book Magazine, Starred

"An extraordinary narrative."
- School Library Journal, Starred

" The Book Thief will be appreciated for Mr. Zusak''s audacity, also on display in his earlier I Am the Messenger. It will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures. And because there''s no arguing with a sentiment like that."
- New York Times

About the Author

Markus Zusak is the internationally bestselling author of six novels, including  The Book Thief and most recently,  Bridge of Clay. His work is translated into more than forty languages, and has spent more than a decade on the  New York Times bestseller list, establishing Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia.

All of Zusak’s books – including earlier titles,  The UnderdogFighting Ruben WolfeWhen Dogs Cry (also titled  Getting the Girl), and  The Messenger (or  I am the Messenger) – have been awarded numerous honors around the world, ranging from literary prizes to readers choice awards to prizes voted on by booksellers.

In 2013,  The Book Thief was made into a major motion picture, and in 2018 was voted one of America’s all-time favorite books, achieving the 14th position on the  PBS Great American Read. Also in 2018,  Bridge of Clay was selected as a best book of the year in publications ranging from  Entertainment Weekly to the  Wall Street Journal.  

Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

DEATH AND CHOCOLATE


First the colors.
Then the humans.
That''s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.


***HERE IS A SMALL FACT  ***
You are going to die.


I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that''s only the A''s. Just don''t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.


***Reaction to the  ***
AFOREMENTIONED fact
Does this worry you?
I urge you--don''t be afraid.
I''m nothing if not fair.


--Of course, an introduction.
A beginning.
Where are my manners?
I could introduce myself properly, but it''s not really necessary. You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away.
At that moment, you will be lying there (I rarely find people standing up). You will be caked in your own body. There might be a discovery; a scream will dribble down the air. The only sound I''ll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, of my footsteps.
The question is, what color will everything be at that moment when I come for you? What will the sky be saying?
Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate. People say it suits me. I do, however, try to enjoy every color I see--the whole spectrum. A billion or so flavors, none of them quite the same, and a sky to slowly suck on. It takes the edge off the stress. It helps me relax.


***A SMALL THEORY  ***
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-spat blues. Murky darknesses.
In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.


As I''ve been alluding to, my one saving grace is distraction. It keeps me sane. It helps me cope, considering the length of time I''ve been performing this job. The trouble is, who could ever replace me? Who could step in while I take a break in your stock-standard resort-style vacation destination, whether it be tropical or of the ski trip variety? The answer, of course, is nobody, which has prompted me to make a conscious, deliberate decision--to make distraction my vacation. Needless to say, I vacation in increments. In colors.
Still, it''s possible that you might be asking, why does he even need a vacation? What does he need distraction from?
Which brings me to my next point.
It''s the leftover humans.
The survivors.
They''re the ones I can''t stand to look at, although on many occasions I still fail. I deliberately seek out the colors to keep my mind off them, but now and then, I witness the ones who are left behind, crumbling among the jigsaw puzzle of realization, despair, and surprise. They have punctured hearts. They have beaten lungs.
Which in turn brings me to the subject I am telling you about tonight, or today, or whatever the hour and color. It''s the story of one of those perpetual survivors--an expert at being left behind.
It''s just a small story really, about, among other things:
* A girl
* Some words
* An accordionist
* Some fanatical Germans
* A Jewish fist fighter
* And quite a lot of thievery


I saw the book thief three times.


BESIDE THE RAILWAY LINE


First up is something white. Of the blinding kind.
Some of you are most likely thinking that white is not really a color and all of that tired sort of nonsense. Well, I''m here to tell you that it is. White is without question a color, and personally, I don''t think you want to argue with me.


***A REASSURING ANNOUNCEMENT  ***
Please, be calm, despite that previous threat.
I am all bluster--
I am not violent.
I am not malicious.
I am a result.
Yes, it was white.


It felt as though the whole globe was dressed in snow. Like it had pulled it on, the way you pull on a sweater. Next to the train line, footprints were sunken to their shins. Trees wore blankets of ice.
As you might expect, someone had died.


They couldn''t just leave him on the ground. For now, it wasn''t such a problem, but very soon, the track ahead would be cleared and the train would need to move on.
There were two guards.
There was one mother and her daughter.
One corpse.
The mother, the girl, and the corpse remained stubborn and silent.
"Well, what else do you want me to do?"
The guards were tall and short. The tall one always spoke first, though he was not in charge. He looked at the smaller, rounder one. The one with the juicy red face.
"Well," was the response, "we can''t just leave them like this, can we?"
The tall one was losing patience. "Why not?"
And the smaller one damn near exploded. He looked up at the tall one''s chin and cried, "Spinnst du! Are you stupid?!" The abhorrence on his cheeks was growing thicker by the moment. His skin widened. "Come on," he said, traipsing over the snow. "We''ll carry all three of them back on if we have to. We''ll notify the next stop."
As for me, I had already made the most elementary of mistakes. I can''t explain to you the severity of my self-disappointment. Originally, I''d done everything right:
I studied the blinding, white-snow sky who stood at the window of the moving train. I practically inhaled it, but still, I wavered. I buckled--I became interested. In the girl. Curiosity got the better of me, and I resigned myself to stay as long as my schedule allowed, and I watched.
Twenty-three minutes later, when the train was stopped, I climbed out with them.
A small soul was in my arms.
I stood a little to the right.
The dynamic train guard duo made their way back to the mother, the girl, and the small male corpse. I clearly remember that my breath was loud that day. I''m surprised the guards didn''t notice me as they walked by. The world was sagging now, under the weight of all that snow.
Perhaps ten meters to my left, the pale, empty-stomached girl was standing, frost-stricken.
Her mouth jittered.
Her cold arms were folded.
Tears were frozen to the book thief''s face.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
30,766 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

SEBTop Contributor: Coloring
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent!
Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2018
Eleven-year-old Liesel Meminger is a foster child who has recently arrived in a small town outside Munich, Germany during WWII. Liesel has been sent to live with Hans and Rosa Huberman, presumably for the small stipend they’ll receive. Liesel is still suffering from the... See more
Eleven-year-old Liesel Meminger is a foster child who has recently arrived in a small town outside Munich, Germany during WWII. Liesel has been sent to live with Hans and Rosa Huberman, presumably for the small stipend they’ll receive. Liesel is still suffering from the loss of her little brother and the difficult and somewhat mysterious separation from her mother. She takes an immediate like to Hans, who is kind and thoughtful, but takes much longer to warm up to the abrasive Rosa.

Liesel makes friends with next-door neighbor Rudy and establishes herself as a self-proclaimed book thief. Becoming unlikely friends with the Mayor’s wife Ilsa affords Liesel the opportunity to read the books in the Mayor’s massive library. Along the way, Liesel is witness to the atrocities of war, heartbreaking events, love, loss and other life-changing events.

I saw the movie The Book Thief several years ago and loved it. When I decided it was time to read the book I was absolutely captivated. Although the book is 550 pages long, I read it in just two days – it was THAT good.

The book is different in several ways, ways in which I won’t go into in my review. Suffice it to say that I’m glad I saw the movie first and then read the book. I think I might have been disappointed with the movie version if it had happened in opposite order. This just goes to show how well the author has written this important piece of fictionalized history. The time period, location, mood, characters, etc. come to life as the story unfolds.

I was surprised at some of the other reviews, stating that the book was just plain depressing. I’m not at all sure how a book that deals with the systematic extinction of a race of people can be written about in an uplifting, happy way. Yet, the book is so much more than a story about a German girl who is living in Nazi Germany during WWII. There are many lovely, tender elements to be found in The Book Thief. The additional anniversary edition footnotes written by the author (at the end of the book) provide wonderful insight.

I think it’s extremely important that all generations read books like The Book Thief. This is part of history and, as poet and philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it." This is a book that is emotionally draining, but very much worth the read!
268 people found this helpful
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Justin and Katie Schauer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loved it
Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2018
I waited way too long to read this book. I don''t even really know why I waited so long, other than Courtney and I started this blog around the same time that I actually bought the book and it took me a while to get to the point where I started reading some of the books that... See more
I waited way too long to read this book. I don''t even really know why I waited so long, other than Courtney and I started this blog around the same time that I actually bought the book and it took me a while to get to the point where I started reading some of the books that I wanted to read instead of just books that we received requests for.

If you follow my blog at all, you know that I love WWII era historical fiction. What I loved about this book is that it showed the lives of average Germans during the war. That''s not a perspective I''ve seen a lot (or ever that I can think of off the top of my head). But Liesel''s foster family wasn''t exactly average either because they held unfavorable opinions about Jewish people, at least unfavorable by German standards during the war.

Another highlight of this story was that it was told from the perspective of Death. It was a bit odd to get used to at first because he jumped around a bit, as Death is wont to do in the course of his work, but once I got used to it, it was a fun way to see things. While death isn''t exactly omniscient, he does have access to information that a human narrator wouldn''t have.

I realize that I''m late enough to this party that you''ve probably already made up your mind about whether you want to read this book or not, but if you''re still on the fence about it, you should absolutely not wait any longer. You''re likely to regret it if you do, like I did.

Overall I give The Book Thief 5.05 stars.
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Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not engaging - Supposedly written for young people but how young you have to be
Reviewed in the United States on July 7, 2018
Agree with all the others giving one or two stars: who in hell thought this was a good book? the style is exasperating and there is no much meat or story. Some say that is because it was intended to young people, but I wonder how young you have to be to enjoy that kind of... See more
Agree with all the others giving one or two stars: who in hell thought this was a good book? the style is exasperating and there is no much meat or story. Some say that is because it was intended to young people, but I wonder how young you have to be to enjoy that kind of writing. Tried to come to terms and finish it but I could not waste more time on this.
71 people found this helpful
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David A. BaerTop Contributor: Cycling
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
those haunting humans, that little girl
Reviewed in the United States on June 17, 2017
With a heart full to overflowing and eyes quite moist, I finish this novel of a young waif of a girl in Hitler’s Germany whose body, soul, and spirit ought never have survived her furnace of affliction. Yet survive she does, grittily and even poetically, with the aid of a... See more
With a heart full to overflowing and eyes quite moist, I finish this novel of a young waif of a girl in Hitler’s Germany whose body, soul, and spirit ought never have survived her furnace of affliction. Yet survive she does, grittily and even poetically, with the aid of a good friend, a tender father, a Jewish refugee in the basement, a mother whose harshness runs only skin keep, and a traumatized mayor’s wife who loves to have her books stolen.

As the old proverb—old but still true for all its rusty years—would tell us, ‘The book is far better than the movie’. This has never been more true than with Markus Zusak’s phenomenal achievement.

The book is narrated by Death, the Grim Reaper. Yet he is not an evil presence, indeed his tender observations are endearing. In the end, the circumstances of 1940s Europe keep him far busier than he’d prefer. Yet he cannot take his eyes off these dismal, glorious humans.

They haunt him, these human beings do. He sees such majesty in them, and such cruelty. The circumstances that call him into hard labors allow him to peer into the human condition at its best and, simultaneously, at its best.

He cannot look away from them, these horrible, beautiful, haunting beings.

This reader revels in the deeply biblical substratum of this compelling novel, whether intended by its author or not.

The best book I’ve read in a year. And I’m hardly alone, for this work has virtually nailed itself to the top rung of the New York Times Bestsellers List. As another old proverb might have it, 50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong.

Buy it, read it, remember it when you least expect.
118 people found this helpful
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Elizabeth H. Cottrell
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This book expanded both my mind and my heart
Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2018
What a strangely beautiful, wildly imaginative, and deeply moving book. The narrator is Death, who—unexpectedly—has both a sense of humor and the capacity to be moved by poignant acts of love, generosity, and courage. The story itself—told from Death''s unique... See more
What a strangely beautiful, wildly imaginative, and deeply moving book. The narrator is Death, who—unexpectedly—has both a sense of humor and the capacity to be moved by poignant acts of love, generosity, and courage.

The story itself—told from Death''s unique perspective—follows 9-year-old Leisel Meminger, the Book Thief, from the day of her baby brother''s death as her mother is taking them to be cared for by foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann at the beginning of WWII. Leisel has stolen a book that someone dropped at her brother''s burial, and this begins her fascination with books and words and their myriad levels of meaning.

The Hubermanns are not sympathetic to Hitler. For months they hide a Jew who is trying to escape Germany and let him live in their basement. As the war progresses, the family and the town experience severe deprivation and scarcity of food, the paranoia and fear of Hitler''s henchmen, and the heartaches of loved ones going off to war or becoming victims of the Allied bombing.

Through it all, Leisel survives physically and spiritually, and as I came to love her, I also came to love and hate the other strong characters, some of whom loved Leisel in their own way: her foster parents, her best friend Rudy Steiner, and Max, the Jew whom she befriended.

This story is filled with sadness and heartache, yet time and again, one character or another exhibits such resiliency and integrity that it took my breath away and filled me with admiration and hope.

The author uses odd formatting and a funky but effective way of handling timeframes, giving you glimpses of the future without losing the momentum or power of the narrative. This book was moving and powerful. It packed quite an emotional wallop that expanded both my mind and heart.
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Anthony(Tony) Riggio
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Nazi Germany Munich, Jewish fugitives, Jesse Owens
Reviewed in the United States on January 14, 2019
January 13, 2019 A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book The Book Thief by Markus Zusak This book was recommended to me by Chris Manion, author of God''s Patient Pursuit of my Soul, who advised that I would really like this story about Nazi Germany in... See more
January 13, 2019

A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book was recommended to me by Chris Manion, author of God''s Patient Pursuit of my Soul, who advised that I would really like this story about Nazi Germany in the 1930''s through the end of World War II. I ordered this book from Amazon in the Special Anniversary Hardback edition.

Markus Zusak in his writing created an interesting way to present the dialog of the narrator. At the outset I thought it was the main protagonist Liesel Meminger narrating then it seemed to morph into another person, not clearly identified at first. It made for an uncomfortable and challenging beginning only to learn after several appearances to be the spirit of Death. This however did not create a feeling of horror or was it distracting once you got the hang of this unnamed narrator. It did not take away from the overall story and the flow was rhythmic and consistent throughout the book, The overall style was very interesting and provided the reader with a glimpse of what was to follow in the succeeding chapter.

Many reviews described the book as a something a child would enjoy or relish. I am not sure if this is accurate as the story was very mature in its concept and gave one an inside track on the happenings of Germany during the rise and fall of the Third Reich. The human protagonist is a young girl about ten years old and how she is being abandoned by her natural mother to a family living in a suburb of Munich, Germany. She is traveling with her mother and younger brother who is quite sick. When the train stops, some distance from the final destination in Munich, the boy dies and they have to bury him in a small cemetery where the grave diggers misplace a book; The Grave Digger''s Handbook and Liesel, purloins it for no apparent reason other than a simple souvenir of remembrance of her deceased brother. The mother deposits Liesel with the Hans and Rosa Hubermann family, a peasant family who lived in the poorer section of town. Rosa is a seemingly strict foster mother and her husband Hans is unemployed and on disability. Hans becomes Liesel''s mentor and teaches Liesel to read via the book she stole from the cemetery. During a book burning in Munich, where Jews were being persecuted, forbidden books were cast into public bonfires and Liesel stole her second book and added to her foster father''s reading curriculum. Her friend Rudy is a Tom Sawyeresque young boy who develops a love for Liesel and several fun experiences are had by both.

The Hubermanns take in an escaped Jew into their home and hide him in their basement, a very dangerous thing in Nazi Germany. Max the Jewish fugitive becomes a second mentor to Liesel and she develops a similar relationship as she has with Hans.

During one of the book burning events, Liesel steals her third book which add to her curriculum being used by Hans and now Max. She is spotted by the Mayor''s wife and consequently a covert relationship is developed by the wife of the mayor and Liesel, which results in another mentor for Liesel.

The book has all the drama and sadness one would expect in a novel contemporaneous with Nazi Germany but it is a book worth reading. It has humor, love, sadness, drama, tragedy, suspense, unexpected and predicted outcomes.

I have to say I loved this book and reading it became obsessive with me and I believe it demonstrated the author''s great talent. I unhesitatingly gave this book five stars and highly recommend its reading.
27 people found this helpful
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PJL
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
How could this book be rated so highly by so many?!?
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2018
Unbelievably disappointing. So bad I just gave up reading it half-way through.(and I''ve only done this with one other book in my lifetime). At first I thought this novel must have been originally written in another language, .....and then very poorly translated into... See more
Unbelievably disappointing. So bad I just gave up reading it half-way through.(and I''ve only done this with one other book in my lifetime). At first I thought this novel must have been originally written in another language, .....and then very poorly translated into English: but no- the author is from Australia. The frequent bold print and use of italics (very strange/distracting) made one think this work was a rudimentary screen-play.
27 people found this helpful
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JD
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I Hated It And Couldn''t Finish It
Reviewed in the United States on May 29, 2019
This was a book club pick and even though I thought I probably wouldn''t like it, I gave it a try anyway. Everything about this book feels slimy to me. I could have finished the book if I didn''t loathe entirely the author''s writing style, but that alone made this... See more
This was a book club pick and even though I thought I probably wouldn''t like it, I gave it a try anyway.

Everything about this book feels slimy to me. I could have finished the book if I didn''t loathe entirely the author''s writing style, but that alone made this book unfinishable.

I prefer real stories of Holocaust survivors instead of fictionalized stories that put a happy face on some of the ugliest things humanity has done to itself. Gave two stars because I guess for young readers, the real stories can be too graphic and horrible. Maybe this will inspire a young reader to look for a real biography or autobiography. Adults who can handle it, please look for better reading.

I recommend Five Chimneys by Olga Lengyel, the Night trilogy by Elie Wiesel (most people only read Night but Dawn and Day are equally good), and also The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank by Willy Lendwer. There are more very good biographies and autobiographies out there that are a hundred times more compelling, emotional, inspirational, and thought-provoking than this. If you prefer video, you can go on youtube and look up the Shoah Foundation and find real video interviews from survivors.
18 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

david doherty
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Never really captivated!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 17, 2019
I did like the relationship dynamic of the story. Notably that of Liesel and Papa, Liesel and Rudy, Liesel and Max. There are some moving moments in the book, a good use of irony and an unusual narrative. The ending is good and somehow very plausible However, I have to say...See more
I did like the relationship dynamic of the story. Notably that of Liesel and Papa, Liesel and Rudy, Liesel and Max. There are some moving moments in the book, a good use of irony and an unusual narrative. The ending is good and somehow very plausible However, I have to say I found the storyline altogether slow and meandering, the plot thin and for me there was never any sense of drama, tension or change of pace. The author’s use of metaphor is at times over the top, for example, the room tasted of sugar and a thousand pages!? There are some books in life that you want to pick up and read again. For me this isn’t one of them
3 people found this helpful
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Quirky Opinions
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Can''t think of a heading.
Reviewed in India on February 16, 2017
This is going to be short because I seem to be lacking words for how much I loved this book. In fact, saying I ''loved'' it almost seems wrong because reading this novel was so impactful and such an experience that... that I don''t have the proper words. This is the story of a...See more
This is going to be short because I seem to be lacking words for how much I loved this book. In fact, saying I ''loved'' it almost seems wrong because reading this novel was so impactful and such an experience that... that I don''t have the proper words. This is the story of a girl, Liesel, set in Nazi Germany. She''s a book thief. And the story is narrated by Death. That''s all you need to know. I, personally, was sold when I heard about the narrator. Didn''t even need to know anything else. This is a beautifully written novel about the life of a young girl, the life of people, during war. And it really hits you, the amount of loss caused by war. And for what? Power? Some misconception? It seems such a waste of so many lives, simply because of one man''s crusade and a nation of people at his disposal, whether it be by fear or manipulation. The book brings you closer to something that you usually recount only distantly. And it does a wonderful job of it. This book was amazing. I love the character, the story, the narrator and everything it had to show and tell. This is one novel that I will not soon forget and I very much think that you should read it.
56 people found this helpful
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Valerie L Pate
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Lot of Love for Liesel...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 21, 2014
don’t know how many times I have picked up this book from a bookstore or library shelf, only to replace it. Shamefully, I believe it was the trailer for the upcoming film that led me to open it to the first page and read the first few sentences. I immediately decided that I...See more
don’t know how many times I have picked up this book from a bookstore or library shelf, only to replace it. Shamefully, I believe it was the trailer for the upcoming film that led me to open it to the first page and read the first few sentences. I immediately decided that I absolutely must take it home with me at once for further, intense devouring. I am not a fan of war books as a sort of general rule; and yet there have been war related novels which have come along and proved the exception. This book, while set in Nazi Germany, is unlike any other World War II book in existence. First of all, the narrator is none other than Death himself. Such a fantastical host provides a unique introduction to the characters of the book and their individual plights. Zusak has created a cast of palpably deep individuals, rich unto their depths, and cleverly juxtaposed them with a wryly observant, mythological presence. I must state that this makes for a truly magnificant combination. Some characters will stay with me forever; like distant friends viewed through the foggy lens of memory. Liesel and her dear foster father, Hans, are two of these extremely special, fictional creations. As a pacifist, I hold in high esteem those who dare to defy crimes against humanity; often at extreme risk to themselves. There were many “Hans Hubermanns” during the war; people that aided Jews and refused to keep irrational prejudices alive in their hearts. Zusak has really given life and breath to Hans. He is the embodiment of a “good neighbor”. He would make an excellent dinner guest, but not because of lofty conversation. Hans is steadfast, and quite critical to Liesel’s development of character. As for Liesel, I found myself instantly aligned with someone who could take such joy from books. Even before she knew how to read, Liesel fell in love with reading. Liesel may have been unable to escape the war and its shocking atrocities, but she took her escape and her comfort from the books that she collected. Liesel’s story feels so real it makes me wonder at Zusak’s inspiration for her. As with all underdogs, the reader cannot help but yearn for Liesel’s survival. More than that, however, I loved being able to treasure every one of her new books with her. I rejoiced in her turn to writing, and I cried beside her more than once. She was intriguing enough to stir the curious interests of the infamous Reaper; and that fanciful conception actually serves to balance an otherwise painfully human construction. We want realism, but we respond to brief reprieves of levity in equal measure.
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Nakul
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Captivating and Moving
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 6, 2019
I loved the film so much that I had to get the book and as usual, the book is obviously better. It is very moving and had me hooked. Beautifully written characters that stay with you long after the book is finished.
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Dawson
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 30, 2019
I loved this book & hated it at the same time. I so wanted different endings for some of the characters, who I fell in love with. I knew what was coming but still wished for a different ending. It’s a great read & I felt a connection with the characters in this book. I only...See more
I loved this book & hated it at the same time. I so wanted different endings for some of the characters, who I fell in love with. I knew what was coming but still wished for a different ending. It’s a great read & I felt a connection with the characters in this book. I only gave it 4 stars as I was a wee bit disappointed in the end as I would have liked to know what became of everyone. I know I’m greedy.
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