Book Review : The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


I’ve to admit: This is one of the very few books I’ve read more than once…!

Many will agree that Men are better in controlling their emotions (especially being sad). Towards the end, in harmony, I was both smiling and also my eyes whirling with emotions. And did I mention Goose bumps ?

In this book, Death is portrayed as a rational character. The story is recounted by Death and when death speaks, one has to listen.
Are we really haunted by death? Think again.
Even death has a heart.
Or as Death quotes:
“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”

Okay! he is a character, so how do you imagine Death to be? He clarifies:
“I do not carry a sickle or scythe. I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold. And I don’t have those skull-like facial features you seem to enjoy pinning on me from a distance. You want to know what I truly look like? I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue”

The story is all about words and people. And provides a different perspective of how World War II affected people in Germany.

The story is about Liesel Meminger, the protagonist & The Book Thief, living in Himmel Street^, Molching* near to Munich with her foster parents Rosa & Hans Hubermann**. The story is about Max Vandenburg, the Jewish fist fighter who seeks asylum at Hubermann residence endangering lives of all. The story is about dynamic Rudy Steiner (and his friendship in difficult times) and about Ilsa Hermann (who finds solace in her library & her memories). A distinct correlation to all these characters are “they are fighters” in one way or the other.

No World War II associated story is complete if Hitler or Mein Kampf is not mentioned. And author (through Max) portrays the rise of Hitler strikingly.

“There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life:
· He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else.
· He would make himself a small, strange mustache.
· He would one day rule the world.
…Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words. “

Author’s imagination has no bounds. Characters & their emotions come alive and you become a companion to Death in all the happenings. Though suspense is broken ahead of actual incidents, it is never a deterrent.

In the company of living characters are many objects/items that form a formidable backdrop in the story: the books, and journals of Max, library, the accordion, soup, paint, pieces of bread and last but not the least “the little black book of lined pages”

There are many more to say. But “words” fail me to explain the depth of the story. However its better you go grab your copy and read it (maybe re-read it too).

This is not a book for fast read… this is not a book with happy endings… In short this is not a book for teenagers: P
My rating 4.95/5 (0.05 withheld for making me sad: P )

End Notes:

**Hubermann: The character of Hubermann (Both Rosa & Hans) could be justified as an exceptional indicator to Über-man or Übermensch which relates to concept of Super Human or the superior race by Nazis. Rosa & Hans definitely displayed care and love well above any average human during the time of War & struggle.

I also took some time to google on the locations mentioned:

*Molching: This is an imaginary town. Could be based on Olching near to Munich

^Himmel Street: Himmel is a German word meaning heaven or sky. Himmel Street in this book is the alternative reality of Himmelstrasse which were the roads that lead to some of the Jewish Concentration Camps / Extermination Chambers.

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