Book Review: The Book Thief

the-book-thief-coverTitle: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release date: March 14th, 2006

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary: “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.” – Goodreads

I suspect that I went into reading this book with the wrong expectations. (Which is one of the things I’ve heard people say you shouldn’t have at all. Have standards, not expectations.)

Simply by walking around with The Book Thief in hand, I had random people stop and tell me how amazing it was. I was expecting something with more action and a bit of a greater climax to it. Not a type of slice-of-life of a family in Nazi Germany. (Though to be fair, having Death narrate the story certainly gave it more interest.) Had I gone into it expecting something more calm, (or again, not expecting anything at all), I feel like I would have been more satisfied at the end. Knowing this, I won’t dock it much.

The most prominent feature of the book is its writing. It’s weird (a good weird), as it uses words in a very different way, sometimes departing completely from their original meaning to paint a somehow even more vivid picture. (EX: A “split pulse”, a “dripping sun”.)

My biggest problem with the book was its ending. It’s abrupt and hardly even comes to a proper close. Not only that, but a multitude of lose ends were left untouched. There are never even vaguely tied up. There is no follow up at all on where the main character’s life went from point A to point B, or the side characters for that matter. Despite this frenzy, the climax doesn’t even feel climactic. You’re told that it happens in advance, and there’s no tension to it.

For its calm air, unique writing, docked a point and a half for unresolved point points and an anti-climactic climax, The Book Thief scores a 3.5 out of 5.


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