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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak
Rating 5+/5
There are no words in my vocabulary to describe the beauty and power of this book. It is definitely in the top 5 on my list of all-time favorites. By now you have all read reviews and you know the book is about a little German girl who belongs to Hitler's youth group and lives with her foster parents in a small German town. The story is narrated by Death, who interestingly enough, is afraid of humans. The girl, Leisel steals books. Her Papa, a kind, good-hearted man, teaches her to read. Amidst the dismal backdrop of Hitler's Germany, Leisel learns the meanings and the power of words. She learns to love them and she learns to hate them.

The author effectively conveys the meaning and power of words in the arrangement and choice of the words he uses to write the story. Zusak is a master. Let me give you a small sampling. Death is describing a neighbor man by listing the five contradictory politics of Alex Steiner. "Point Five: Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of what might come leaking out."

After Leisel stole her first book, Death described her as "the book thief without the words." (because she didn't know how to read yet) Death continues, "Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain."

The first time Liesels' foster mother made her knock on the door and ask for the laundry from the mayor's wife. Liesel was scared to death. "Liesel's blood had dried inside of her. It crumbled. She almost broke into pieces on the steps."

The whole book is filled with beautiful and unexpected arrangements of words. This alone is not what makes the book so outstanding. The story is compelling. The characters are flawed but important. You love them. You care about them. You worry and cry for them. Even Death.

This is a must read and I don't believe it will let you down like The Thirteenth Tale did. Compared to The Book Thief, TTT was only an interesting story.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds like a wonderful book. My list of books to read over the Christmas break is starting to get really long. I don't know if I'll have time to read everything I want to.

emasl said...

Please check out a review of this on dovegreyreader.typepad.com
she loved it too

Anonymous said...

I love to see that you felt much the same way I did about this book. My advice is to follow it with light or brain vacation type stuff. This one has stayed in my head for a while and I'm not ready to let go of it quite yet.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful review, booklogged, you make me want to push aside all my other books and pick up "The Book Thief" NOW! I have been saving it for the Chunkster Challenge, but I just might get to it sooner. Again, thank you for another wonderful review!

hellomelissa said...

what an enticing review! so far, you haven't let me down, but soon my book stack will be too high to see over!

Les said...

Yay! Beautiful, beautiful review. I loved reading those delicious passages all over again. Makes me really, really want to read the book again now!

It's so good to continue hearing great things about The Book Thief (and I like the way you compare it to The Thirteenth Tale). I've been so worried that someone, somewhere is going to tear it apart and my heart will break! You'd think I was the one who wrote it. Nope. Just its #1 fan who (my review is here).

angela said...

can't wait to read this one.. i have it sitting to be read next, but i need to finish Eragon before the movie comes out next month..

booklogged said...

Alyson, if you don't read any of the other books on your list, you should read this one!

Thanks, Emasl. I've seen Dovegreyreader's review. What can we say - It's good!

Good advice, SuziQ. I was going to follow it with something brainless, but I am leading the discussion in book club for The History of Love. I've alread read it, but I need to reread it. I'm not disappointed. It seems to be holding up great even after a book like The Book Thief.

Lotus, the Chunkster Challenge is just 6 weeks off, so if you can, I suggest you hold off.

Melissa, join the party. I've found that to be one of the problems with being a bleader - I add more books to my list, AND at a very fast pace.

Thanks to you, Les and SuziQ, for your stirring reviews, I bumped The Book Thief up to the top of the list. Thank-you for steering me in the direction of one of the bests books I've ever read.

Oh, Angela, I still need to read Eragon. Do you know that the sequel, Eldest, won the Quill Award over The Book Thief?! I didn't know a movie was in the making. Guess I better squeeze Eragon in before the movie. Thanks for the heads up.

Framed said...

Rats, I won't get to this book for months. I can't wait. Just finished The History of Love. I liked it a lot.

Library Lady said...

U-Oh! Looks like you have been hit with spam...Time to enable word verification.

One down and four to go in the From the Stacks challenge. Good job! Maggie

Anonymous said...

I have to get my hands on this one. I too was let down by The Thirteenth Tale. Great review.

Sherry said...

Thanks for the review. I didn't "get" The Book Thief in the same way you did, but I agree that it was compelling. I took the liberty of adding a link to your book review to my Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. (www.semicolonblog.com) I hope you'll come by some Saturday and add a link to your reading posts in the future.

booklogged said...

Framed, If you don't have all your chunksters picked, you could read The Book Thief for the Chunkster Challenge AND your alphabetical read. Works out well, huh? I'm rereading The History of Love and am enjoying every bit as much as the first time.

Thanks, Christina. I think you'll really enjoy The Book Thief.

Sherry, I've been over to your blog. I'll be back to visit again.

booklogged said...

Maggie, thanks. I put the word verification back on.

Framed said...

I was going to set aside A to Z for a couple of months and do a Classics Chunkster Challenge. Those classics are huge. I like having the Book Thief at the end of my list as a reward for getting through all the other books. So far, I've read 15 A to Z books and only two were real bowsers. I may never have read Ferrigno's book and look how much fun that blog turned out to be.

booklogged said...

Framed, you are so right - Ferrigno's comment was soooooo funny. I need to add him to my list and BUY the next book! hahaha!

Bellezza said...

I didn't read your review thoroughly because I need to finish this book. But, then I'll come back to comment.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that all the books on my list are books that have come highly recommended and I've been waiting to read. These include, The Goose Girl, The History of Love, and Inkheart. I also really want to read Brother Odd. I think this book will be second on the list; right behind The Goose Girl. Hopefully I can read them all over Christmas.

Heather said...

Oh, so glad you loved it too! It is such a stunningly written amazing book. So sad. So poignant. So beautiful.

His first book, while totally different, also has the same beautiful prose. And it's a good story too. If you want more by him definitely check it out.

Sam S. said...

Thanks for pointing me toward this one. I picked it up Saturday afternoon at the local library and I've enjoyed every page of the 400 or so that I've read up to this evening. This is one of my favorite books of 2006 for sure and I'm telling like-minded friends not to miss it.

Much appreciated...

booklogged said...

Bellezza, I think you will love this book. Can't wait to hear what you think.

Anonymous, Brother Odd will be out in just 6 days. Yay!

Heather, I definitely want more, so thanks for the recommend.

Sam, I'm so glad you are enjoying it. It's one of my favorite, too.

Alyson said...

BTW, my comments on the post have somehow turned into comments by "anonymous". I don't know what happened since I was logged in when I left them. Anyway, I wanted you to knoow that the comment about Brother Odd was left by me, and also the first comment, but I think you knew that one was mine.

Library Lady said...

Oops! I bought this book after reading your review. I forgot I was supposed to lay off buying until after the TBR challenge. Now it just stares at me from my night stand, taunting...Maggie ;)

Carrie K. said...

I'm reading this for the Saturday Review Challenge.

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