The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Last weekend I made it my mission to finish The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.  No matter what else was going on, I was going to finish that book!

I’m not going to talk too much about the plot or the ending because I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it but, suffice to say, it is an amazing book and if you haven’t read it, you must do so immediately!

I think one of the important things to note is that it is narrated by Death.  Death tells the story of Liesel Meminger, the book thief.  When I described this to hubby, he asked if it was similar to Terry Pratchett’s Death character and the young girl in those books but I couldn’t comment because I’ve not read many Pratchett books!  (they are on my ‘to read’ pile).

Liesel lives with her foster parents in Himmel Street in Molching, Germany.  It is an engaging story, one in which you become very invested in the characters. You actually care what happens to them which is the sign of a good book in my opinion.  I hate those kind of books that lack depth and by the end you just don’t care what happens to the characters, you just want it to end.  This really isn’t the case with The Book Thief.  I ended up very invested, so much so that by the end of the book I felt like I knew them, I felt their pain if they were upset or hurt, I felt their successes and triumphs.

The star of the book for me were Hans Hubberman without a doubt.  I’d love to have known him and heard him play the accordion.  Predictably Max and Rudy were also firm favourites.  I loved the tale of Liesel’s friendship with Rudy.  Zusak captured the essence of friendship very well.

There was heartbreak too.  Death tells  you it is coming and for the last quarter of the book I was dreading what was coming next.  I knew something bad was going to happen but I didn’t want it to happen to these characters that I was so invested in.  Part of me wanted to put the book down and not read on, not read about the bad things that were going to happen but I had to know….and it made me cry!

Having read the book I definitely want to see the movie but I know it will be a weepie.  I’m not sure if it’s one to see with hubby or some girlie friends.

There are many things that I love about this book.  As I’ve already mentioned, the way Zusak captures the essence of the friendship between Liesel and Rudy, the way he brings the characters alive but also how he captures the family ties.  I adored Hans and the bond that he and Liesel shared.  Also, for me, it was nice to read something that focussed on the ordinary German people during the war, as with ‘Two Brothers’ by Ben Elton.

I googled to see if there really was a Himmel Street in Molching but Wiki Answers says not.  There is no city called Moching in Germany and the city is in fact based on ‘Olching’.  As such, there is no Himmel Street and in the book this is a reference to the 100 metre road that led to the Sobibor extermination camp – nicknamed Himmelstrasse.

All in all, an excellent book, one that I would recommend with no hesitation at all.

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One thought on “The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak”

  1. Absolutely one of my favourite books ever!!! Superbly written, I loved the story, the historical location and the fact that it’s narrated by Death. It one of the few books, I could read more than once 🙂

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