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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (final thoughts)

February 16, 2011

They say that war is death’s best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing, incessantly: “Get it done, get it done.” So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you. He asks for more. (p. 309)

This book. This book.

Oh my it was a good one.

All you need to know about it is that it is set in Germany and starts in 1939 with 9-year-old Liesel en route to her new foster parents. And that it is narrated by Death.

I bought The Book Thief over a year a go, on a whim (a rarity for me, honest), and it has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. Two fears kept me from reading it for so long: 1. It’s not as good as everyone says it is, and 2. It is full of unbearable, never ending, gut wrenching sads. I’m happy to report that my doubts were unfounded. For the most part. Let me explain.

1. It’s not as good as everyone says it is. Well, that wasn’t something I had to worry about. True, The Book Thief isn’t an action-packed, fast-paced read. Time is spent building up characters and various storylines. It’s time well spent. And the writing is poetic and fantastic. I’m so glad took advantage of that whim and bough this book, because I have a feeling I’ll want to read it again. Or at least pick it up and randomly flip through the pages now and then. Yes, it’s that good.

2. It is full of unbearable, never ending, gut wrenching sads. Well, it is set in Germany during World War II, so it’s not exactly a light laugh of a read. And yes, it did make be cry. Okay, it made sob. You do not want to read the last bit of it in public. But the majority of the book was full of wonderful storytelling and wonderful characters and wonderful moments. And did I mention the writing? There are phrases about Death catching souls that will stay with me for a long long time, not just because they’re heart wrenching, but also because of how poetically beautiful they are.

If you’ve been holding out on reading The Book Thief for either of these reasons, let me assure you: it really is a fantastic book and yes it is sad, but it’s also hopeful and lovely.

My rating: 10/10

Soundtrack Saturday

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2011 1:03 am

    It’s amazing isn’t it? My boyfriend arrived at my flat to visit from another city just as I was finishing it and was forced to sit in silence for 15 mins until I was done. And then had to cuddle me as I cried! I know what you mean about not reading the end bits in public.

  2. February 16, 2011 6:37 am

    You have certainly pushed me over the edge into the land of… “okay, okay… I will read this one.” I hesitated in truly committing it to my to read list because I feared like you…worried that it will not be as good as everyone has said. You have convinced me that it is…and well…if I disagree then it will probably be ever so slight.

  3. February 16, 2011 7:49 am

    Wow, what a great review! I’m very interested in this book & will try not to stall on it much longer. Once that TBR stack of mine gets bulldozed, I’ll get on it :)

  4. February 16, 2011 8:06 am

    I loved this one! It’s one of my favorites. So glad you loved it too!

  5. February 16, 2011 8:10 am

    I’m so glad you liked it! The language is beautiful and so are the characters. And while it’s not action packed, the characters are so wonderful you just get wrapped up in their lives and forget about the fact that not much happens and what does happen is slow. It’s marvelous. Yes, it is sad (made me cry too) but fully worth it.

  6. February 16, 2011 8:30 am

    I’m so glad you liked it! Your review reminded me of how much I loved it, and I think I’m going to have to go out and buy it because, like a fool, I only borrowed it from the library. :-)

  7. February 16, 2011 9:20 am

    I need to re-read this! Like Amy said above, you’ve reminded me of how much I loved it. So glad you did too.

  8. February 16, 2011 9:50 am

    I have to laugh as I have had this on my bookshelf for probably over a year too! I’m so glad, even after all the hype, that you loved it that much. I need to get reading this one soon!

  9. February 16, 2011 11:31 am

    Awesome review :)

  10. February 16, 2011 4:22 pm

    I seriously get chills even thinking about this book. I’ve read it a bunch of times, and it never gets old, and I cry and cry every time. I’m glad you liked it! I had the same fears about it, until I read a few pages at the beginning and loved it to pieces.

  11. February 16, 2011 4:36 pm

    Thankfully, I read this one before all the hype started. Otherwise, I’d have had the same doubt #1 that you had! I’m so happy you ended up loving The Book Thief. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

  12. February 16, 2011 4:48 pm

    for the love of god…this book STALKS my life! i cannot escape it yet i cannot finish it, either! everyone loves it and i tried 3 times to read it, never making it past page 40. it was my 2010 resolution to finish it but that didn’t happen. i’m going to buy it for my kindle and make every effort to read it. i swear. i hate missing out when everyone else raves. thanks for the kick in the pants!

  13. February 16, 2011 7:53 pm

    It was a beautiful book that hit you in the heart wasn’t it? I’ve read it twice and think about it often.

  14. February 17, 2011 2:50 am

    Okay, you convinced me to read this. I saw this one translated in the library, but I never really thought this would be a book for me. Now I know I was wrong!

    Great review. ;)

  15. February 17, 2011 11:11 am

    Yes, agree on all parts! Except about the last part making you sob. The WHOLE book made me sob! I actually just re-read this one (half read, half listened) and the experience was maybe even better than the first because I knew what was going to happen and could just really pay attention to the message, the characters, and everything that Death says. I finished the book in my car right before work and I was a sobbing, heaving mess. ;)

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it Alita!

  16. February 17, 2011 12:37 pm

    Meet me – the only person left on the planet who hasn’t read this one…! I absolutely need to pick this one up :)

  17. February 17, 2011 2:15 pm

    This one requires a re-read from me one of these days!!

  18. February 20, 2011 2:40 pm

    Siobhan – I’m glad I was home alone when I finished it because oh boy was I a mess. What a sweet boyfriend, not only wait while you finished but to comfort you after.

    ibeeeg – Excellent! I can’t want to see what you think of it.

    Teacher/Learner – Thank you! I hope you’re able to read it soon, it really is a fantastic book.

    Heather – It’s definitely one of my favourites now, too.

    Amy – All the characters were really so wonderful. I want to visit them all again :)

    Amy – Don’t you hate that, when you borrow a book that you end up loving and the whole way back to return it to the library you’re thinking ‘why? why??? why didn’t I buy this??’ I hope you can find a copy of your own soon!

    nymeth – Glad I could remind you :)

    Mel – Ha! Yes, I can relate. But just read it, okay? :)

    Juju – Thank you!

    Jenny – I have a feeling it’ll make me cry every time too. Because right at the beginning you even know how it ends. Death is pretty upfront about it. But my goodness that doesn’t make the end any easier.

    Erin – Unfortunately if it wasn’t for all the talk about it, I probably wouldn’t have even picked it up in the first place. But now I’m happy to have joined the YAY BOOK THIEF club :)

    nat – Ha! Well, if I don’t see it mentioned on your blog in the next while, maybe I’ll do another post about it just so it shows up on your radar ;)

    kaye – Totally hit to the heart.

    Nina – Go for it! I hope you love it.

    Trish – Oh gosh, I was such a mess at the end. “Sobbing, heaving mess” is an appropriate description. And it didn’t help that I was in the midst of an awful cold. Between the sneezing, runny nose, and flow of tears, I was quite the sight.

    Coffee and a Book Chick – Hehe nice to meet you ;) And yes, you do need to pick it up!

    Staci – It seems like the kind of book that improves upon rereads, which is quite rare.

  19. February 21, 2011 12:48 am

    Definitely one of those great reads that is not exaggerated. Love it and your review!

  20. February 21, 2011 6:15 am

    I have this one on my tbr list but your review really bumped it up on my list. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  21. February 21, 2011 6:31 pm

    I bawled my way through this book.

    You might also like The Boy in Striped Pajamas, Number the Stars, and Milkweed
    http://sumthinblue.com/if-you-liked-markus-zusaks-the-book-thief-holocaust-review-series/

  22. March 6, 2011 7:24 pm

    This book was excellent! When I posted my review, I received a few comments like, “I’ve had this on my shelf, but I’m afraid reading it will make me sad” or “Everyone talks about the artistry of the writing, which usually means that it’s one of ‘those’ books – you know, the ones where the writing is great and the story is not.” This one is one of the rare ones that make it to my keeper shelf. I’m sure I will be doing a re-read.

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