The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a unique take on a World War II story.  Narrated by Death (yes, Death is a narrator), the reader is told the story of Liesel Meminger.

Liesel is a young girl, a book thief, who is living with foster parents in Germany after her brother is killed and her mother is unable to care for her.  She becomes close to her Papa and learns how to take the war into her own hands: thievery and by keeping secrets.

I’m surprised that this is a young adult book.  Not because the topic is too mature, but because it didn’t feel YA in the least.  This felt like an adult novel.

Also, two of my friends started and then did not finish this book.  But I think that’s a mistake.  The Book Thief is unique and narration by Death is actually one of the most interesting perspectives I have ever read.

I participated in The Book Thief read-along with Suey, Kami, and Kathy!

Who is the most interesting narrator you know?

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Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon & IndieBound. I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.

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39 thoughts on “The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  1. I totally loved this book and the point of view.
    I would put this book in the historical fiction section which could be read from age 14 and up, so I understand the YA indication but I do agree it does not feel like a YA book.

    There are people who love this book and people who cannot connect with it. I used to find it interesting people were not able to finish this book but when I read it for the third time after having a discussion with a person who had problems finishing I was able to understand the style might not be for everyone.

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    • You know, this comment really made me see that you’re right. This book may not be for everyone, and there are lots of books I have read and disliked that other people have enjoyed. I guess I wish that people wouldn’t DNF so quickly, like maybe give it 75-100 pages before stopping.

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  2. I’m rereading The Book Thief currently, as a part of the read-along, although I won’t be able to finis it by tomorrow. I wouldn’t categorize it as YA either, more like historical fiction, especially because the writing style can be quite difficult. I love it, but I’ve heard a lot of people having trouble with it.

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    • Did you finish it? It’s okay if you didn’t, I’m just curious.

      I can see more of the writing style as being a turn off, and can understand a lack of connection with the story, too. Death is a fabulous narrator but he also gives away what is coming up.

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    • That is sooo awesome when a book makes you ugly cry!!! It just brings out such deep emotions. I find that sometimes when I finish a book, I cry even more AFTER reading it, than I do at the ending itself. Like I’m just devastated that it’s over and it was emotional and it’s kind of like it all builds up into one upsetting moment, but in a good way, too, kind of.

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  3. I loved this book and I think Death as the narrator was a huge part of why it was so good. I almost never like books that make me sad, but this book is a complete exception, perhaps because how sad I was indicated what an amazing job the author did making me care about the characters.

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  4. The Book Thief is on my list, and I need to get cracking, because the move is going to be out soon.

    I tried to think of the most interesting narrator I have encountered in a book, and I am shocked to realize that I can’t think of any! I have recently noticed that I lost track of so much about a book after I read it. I remember the feels, certain events, and characters; however, there is so much about a book (like the narrator) that I just seem to forget.

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    • And if you’re forgetting about the narrator, it must not be as unique as Death. I thought the same thing too and the only other narrator I can think of that was unique was from Look Who’s Talking. . . but that’s a movie.

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  5. Death in this book is my all time favorite narrator. This was a reading festival book (at our local college) six or so years ago and I used it as Honors English reading one summer…the students really liked it too.

    I bought the European edition because I liked its cover best…even though it displays Death as a skeleton and he says he isn’t.

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  6. I really loved this book and give it to many of my (high school) students to read, but I can see why some people have a hard time getting through it. It definitely has a different perspective that takes some time getting used to, but ends up being really beautiful. I’m so excited to see what they end up doing with the movie.

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  7. What an awesome discussion you have going on here! You’ll be interested to know that Markus Zusak didn’t start out with Death as the narrator. In fact he was struggling with the book to make it right, and then this Death thing came to him and so he started over and bam, the whole thing came together. (Although he still mentions that he rewrote like, 90 something times I think!)

    I agree, it does not feel like a YA… same with I Am the Messenger. I guess these are the sort of books that truly don’t fit in anywhere… they are just too unique.

    Glad to have you join us for the read along! I hope other people who have DNF try again after seeing your comments!

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    • Suey,

      I’m sorry I wasn’t as great of a read-a-long participant! It was tough with Bloggiesta and the blogging conference occurring the same weekend as Kami’s chunk of book.

      I had no idea that he has rewritten The Book Thief so many time or that Death was not the original narrator. I also hope some DNF’ers decide to give it another chance. I totally get quitting after 75-100 pages, but give it til then, and I think more people would be hooked.

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  8. You know I wanted to do the readalong, but just didn’t have the time. Also, I read a sample of this book and I didnt like it, but because of the hype and good reviews, I might give it another chance. I do think Death as a narrator is interesting! Was it as emotional for you as for others?

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    • It was emotional for sure, but it does sound like other people connected more emotionally than I did with this one. I do think it’s worth taking some time to read, and if you hit 75 pages and still aren’t a fan, quit then.

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  9. I loved this book! I was warned to have tissues on hand, and heaven knows I needed them. I’m a historical fiction junkie, so this was right up my alley regardless of the age designation (though I do enjoy YA from time to time.) That reminds me! Have you read Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi? I know you read a lot of Holocaust era books, and I think you’d really dig that one if you haven’t read it yet.

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    • Aw thanks for the rec! I have heard of it. . . and possibly own it. . . because I think it’s one of Oprah’s picks, too! I do lean towards the WWII/Holocaust/Jewish books a lot. But that’s just what I find intriguing I guess.

      Going to search through my books right now to see if I do have it. . .

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  10. Death is indeed one of the most shoking narrators 🙂
    I liked this book so much; I read it years ago, by the way, but I have to say that here in Spain it wasn’t focused as a YA book; it was bought for adults.
    I’m looking forward to watching the movie!!

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  11. Rebecca, I loved this book. Read it sometime ago and it’s interesting to be hearing the story from Death. Great review, and who is my favorite narrator? That’s a tough question but I think I’ll have to say it’s Anne Frank. Another WWII story told in her diary.

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    • I almost wonder if it’s more YA because the main character is young. It’s more of a high school YA, in my opinion. And weirdly enough, Death wasn’t scary. He was kind of . . . I don’t know. . . dark but honest? Because he wasn’t evil in my opinion, he was an entity. It was a different way of thinking of a narrator for sure.

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