Saturday, 17 May 2014

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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

Hardcover, 552 pages
Published March 14th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Terri's Thoughts:

I really don't know what to say about this book.  There are so many thoughts in my head after reading this that I know there is simply no way to get them out in the way they deserve.  I will attempt by starting at the beginning.

I did not pick this book up because it has been recently made in to a movie.  I didn't decide to read it because while on vacation I saw several people sitting on the beach reading it.  I decided to read it because it has been repeatedly showing up on my recommended to read list on Goodreads based on how I rated previous books.  I knew nothing of the book aside from the synopsis provided on the book cover yet I knew it was something that I must read.

As advertised this is a story about the war in Germany and therefore you know going in that it will be tragic and the book certainly delivers.  From the very beginning I was drawn to Leisel and her story. I fell in love with her and all of the important people in her life.  Papa, Max, and Rudy to name just a few were all characters that will stay with me for a very long time.

 I will not bore everyone with a lengthy review as there are thousands of them already to choose from.  What I will say is that it was the writing style of Zusak that drew me in to the story.  It was so well written and original in style that the pages flew by before I knew it.  I can honestly say that this is one of the most original writing styles that I have ever seen and I do not think will be re-created in any other works.  I marvel at the talent that created this piece of work as in my opinion there was a little bit of "outside the box" thinking that went in to this story.

I truly regret that it has taken me this long to read this.  It was a truly rewarding yet haunting story.  It is also one that I think everyone should read. The story is ageless and I can say that three generations of my family have now read this, my mother, my niece and myself.  This can be appreciated by all.  I truly thank Zusak for allowing me in to his imagination to live Leisel's story.

In closing I have to acknowledge that the closing sentence of this story is the most impactful and truly honest sentence I have ever read.  I will not divulge it for those who have yet to experience this brilliant work however it truly makes one sit back and think.  It was pure genius.

About the Author

Markus Zusak was born in 1975 and is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief , which is translated into more than forty languages. First released in 2005, The Book Thief has spent a total of 375 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and still remains there eight years after it first came out.

His first three books, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and When Dogs Cry (also known as Getting the Girl ), released between 1999 and 2001, were all published internationally and garnered a number of awards and honours in his native Australia, and the USA.

The Messenger (or I am the Messenger ), published in 2002, won the 2003 Australian Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award (Older Readers) and the 2003 NSW Premier's Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize), as well as receiving a Printz Honour in America. It also won numerous national readers choice awards across Europe, including the highly regarded Deutscher Jugendliteratur prize in Germany.

It is The Book Thief , however, that has established Markus Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia. To date, The Book Thief has held the number one position at,, the New York Times bestseller list, as well as in countries across South America, Europe and Asia. It has also been in the top five bestsellers in the UK and several other territories. It has amassed many and varied awards, ranging from literary prizes to readers choice awards to prizes voted on by booksellers. It was the only book to feature on both the USA and UK World Book Night Lists in 2012, and has now been adapted into a major motion picture.

The Book Thief (the film adaptation) is directed by Emmy Award-winning Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) and was shot in Berlin by Twentieth Century Fox. The cast is headlined by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine, The King’s Speech) and Academy Award nominee Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves, Anna Karenina). It also includes exciting new talents Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, and Sophie Nelisse (Monsieur Lazhar), with Nelisse cast as The Book Thief , Liesel Meminger.

The Guardian calls The Book Thief “a novel of breathtaking scope, masterfully told.” The New York Times: “Brilliant and hugely ambitious…the kind of book that can be life-changing.” The Age: “an original, moving, beautifully written book.”

Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.

Twitter:  Markus_Zusak


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