Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published March 14, 2006 (Orig. published 2005)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

A mysterious narrator gives an account of a young girl who has an unusual vice: she steals books. Death comes for the girl’s brother as she and her mother wait for a train to take them to a foster home where the children will be safe. It is he, the collector of souls, who is the only witness to the girl’s first thievery, and he begins to follow her story.

Life in Liesel’s new home is a difficult adjustment, plagued with nightmares, but through them, she and her foster father form a bond through reading the book Liesel has stolen: a grave-digger’s manual. As Liesel grows, over and over written words touch her life: a book stolen from the embers of a Nazi bonfire, from the mayor’s library, written to her by a man in hiding.

Death follows her story as a foreigner in her world, relaying the sequences of events with raw imagery and striking language, often creating the feel of a black-and-white picture with one color highlighted through it. Liesel’s journey is both joyful and heart-rending, harsh and beautiful. This is the most unusual World War II story I’ve ever read.

Okay. Honestly, the above is kind of an understatement. The Book Thief claims the top spot as my favorite book. I loved it so much that I called friends and family members, like listen. Then I made them listen to me read a passage of the book. The language, the use of metaphors totally blew me away. The characters and the emotions between them absolutely leapt straight off the page. I loved them all. Rudy. Oh, gosh, Rudy.

Seriously. Trust me. Read this. And call me when you find those passages that demand to be read out loud. I’ll be right there with you.

Update 2017: Check out this costume with book pages from The Book Thief as the skirt! You know you’re jealous….

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity. Leisel’s foster mother calls her a saumensch, which basically means pig. It becomes a term of endearment between characters.

Sexual Content
Very mild. A boy kisses a girl.

Spiritual Content
The story is told from the viewpoint of a spirit-being who collects the souls of the dead.

Some war violence – not hugely graphic or explicit.

Drug Content

Watch the trailer that won the 2006 Teen Book Video Award below…


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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

12 Responses to Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  1. Melanie says:

    Would you be willing to review my book? Reality, Darkness into Light…my first book!

    • kaseygiard says:

      Hi Melanie. Sorry for the delay in my response. I know it’s been some time since your request. Are you still looking for reviewers? Best of luck to you in any case!

  2. Such great reviews you have here! I would surely share this with my friends!

    • kaseygiard says:

      Thanks so much! I will (at last) be posting new reviews regularly once again. Hope you visit again. 🙂

  3. Kathryn says:

    This sounds fascinating… I love finding new youth/children’s books to read and think about. Thanks for the reference!

    • kaseygiard says:

      You’re so welcome. I remember reading this book for the first time and calling people to read pages of it to them. The writing is really beautiful. Hope you enjoy it!

  4. Pingback: The Book Thief: Unusual WWII Story | The Freedomist- Freedom News

  5. Pingback: Christian Book Barn» Blog Archive » The Book Thief: Unusual WWII Story

  6. Vibrators says:

    What a great trailer!

    Anyone got link to download this movie?

    • kaseyheinly says:

      It’s a trailer for a book, actually. I think someone did make a movie out of the book, but I’m not sure the trailer relates to the movie itself. Hope this helps!

  7. kaseyheinly says:

    It’s interesting – I read that Zusak’s original character concept for the Death character was much more intense and, I think he put it, enjoyed his work too much. I found him endearing after awhile, but it’s interesting that you still sensed a lot of the original flavor of the character. Good observations!

  8. uninvoked says:

    I didn’t much like this book. I loved the prologue enough to buy it, but then the story changed perspectives and Death kept constantly interrupting with his thoughts and opinions which didn’t make any sense anyway.

    In short: Death is rude and I’m not speaking to him. >_>