Hey, guys! I am so freaking excited to come at you all with a review of this book, The Book Thief! It has taken me forever to finally finish the entire thing, but I have finished it, and I absolutely loved it. This is easily right at the top of my all time favorites list, and I almost want to say it is my favorite book of all time. But this book is set in World War II, its narrated by Death, and it is beautiful. Highly recommend this story because it was absolutely bloody fantastic. But let’s go ahead and get into the review!
“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. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel 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 before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.”
Jesus, Budah and Allah, I am a sobbing mess right now.
It’s kind of hard to express how much I love this book. I totally get why so many people have been obsessed with this because I almost want to say that this is my new all time favorite book. Like, ever. I just was so in tune with all of these characters. I cared about them, loved them, and by God, I can positively tell you this book has made me cry more than I have in my entire life for a book. I have never cried this much for a book. And the fact that I did cry is pretty miraculous because I am not a book crier. I don’t usually cry. And I nearly went through an entire box of tissues that my brother conveniently had. But I don’t think anything I can say would do this book justice, but I will try my best.
Let’s just talk about Mama and Papa (Rosa and Hans) for a bit. From the beginning, I absolutely loved Hans Hubermann. He is such a caring and selfless man. He loved Liesel so much. He wanted to help the Jews. He knew that what Hitler was doing was absolutely wrong. He kept a Jew in his basement, for crying out loud. He was easily one of my favorite characters from this story (I have a lot of favorites). Rosa Hubermann was not someone I liked right off the bat like her husband. She is more of an acquired taste for me. It took me a bit to really understand her character and just to love and connect with her. But while she is definitely rough around the edges, ultimately she does truly have a big heart and she loved many people very deeply. I really grew to love and respect her character.
Now, let’s get to talking about Rudy. I loved his character. I loved how much he really loved Liesel. He cared about her so much, and they were so close. I think under the right circumstances they might have moved past the friendship barrier and started dating. But I was not focused on any semblance of romance. He just was always there for Liesel and she for him. They were best friends, and they would have died for each other. That kind of friendship just made a lasting impression on me. I think it was a very powerful and wonderfully portrayed friendship, and it was one of my favorite things about the book.
Oh, Liesel. You have lost so many people. And yet, she still gets up in the morning. She doesn’t let her past cripple her. She is so strong. She truly cares about the people in her life. She loves them so deeply, from Max to Rudy to Mama to Papa to her neighbors around her. And that isn’t even close to how she feels about books. She loves to read so much and she spreads that love to the people around her. She allows reading to help distract her and everyone else from the air raids. She reads to them and they don’t think about the dangers of the air raids as much. She really teaches us the power of words and how words can make or break a person or situation. Words are a very powerful thing. Not to mention the fact that she is the book thief, the girl who steals books every chance she gets and stealing from one particular person actually ends up giving her a friendship later on. I just think Liesel is the strongest person ever, after all she has been through, and I just really love, respect, and admire her character.
Now, the plot. I guess you could say the main plot is just everything that goes on in Liesel’s life. We see the kind of things Death must do, how he truly does care for the souls he collects. Even the ones he doesn’t, like Liesel Meminger. It was super interesting for this story to be told in the perspective of Death. I think we really got to see the entire scope of the story by being in the POV of Death, and it ultimately really added to my interest and enjoyment of this book. We get to see Liesel grow up and face so many things in her life. We see how the war affects her family and the people around her, and it just really put the war in a new perspective for me. We don’t normally see the German side of this war. Usually, we see a character who is a Jew going through this war, but I loved seeing the opposite side of it. It really added even more to my understanding of this terrible war.
Also, this book just hit me right in the feels. I just was so happy in some parts, scared in others, and so sad for the last half of the book. Speaking in particular of the last one hundred pages or so, I did not stop crying. I was a sobbing mess throughout that entire section of the book, and it was nonstop sobbing. I just was so upset and so not okay with what was happening at the end of that book. It was really convenient that my brother had a box of tissues right by his bed because I ended up going through almost that entire box. I just was so connected to all of these characters that with what happened, I could not deal with it. The injustice of it all, though it is very accurate to the kind of thing that was bound to happen because it was the war. It just still upsets me. There are tear stains on multiple parts of that book just because of how I was feeling, how upset I was, and how I just wanted more chances for the characters at the end.
I need to talk about the audiobook version of this book. I did audiobook it for the majority of the novel but ended up reading the last one hundred and fifty pages using my physical copy. The narrator was absolutely fantastic. I thought he was so unbelievably good. And that is high praise coming from me because I am very picky about the audiobooks I like, especially if there is only one narrator rather than an entire cast of characters. He just was really fantastic. Also, while I thought it a bit odd, I ended up really liking the format of this book. It was pretty different compared to a lot of other books I’ve read and while it made me question my decision to read the book in the beginning (that’s why I mostly audiobooked it), it ended up growing on me, and I think it really fit with the story. I really enjoyed it.
And my God, the writing. I loved the writing of this novel. Markus Zusak is so talented with words and with stories, and I just really loved the writing of this novel. It was not distracting at all, and it really helped me to keep going with the story. I think he is just a phenomenal writer.
Overall, I absolutely loved this novel. I loved the characters, plot, setting, writing and so many other things that I can scarcely describe. I loved the historical fiction aspect of the novel as I really felt like I was in Nazi Germany. The overall tone of the story was very accurate to the story and the content of the story, so I just ended up really enjoying it. I am really excited to read more books by Markus Zusak because he is just such a talented writer and this book really reflected that.
And there you have it! That was my review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. What is your favorite historical fiction novel? Sound off in the comments below! And that is going to be it for this post today. Thank you all so much for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it, and I will see you next time!