hurleyma, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by hurleyma)
This book is powerful. By the time you've reached the end, you realize that you've taken a journey with the characters...and quite the characters they are! The layout of the book is unconventional, but what can you expect of a novel narrated by Death? I highly recommend it to readers who are interested in the Holocaust, but also readers who want a great book.
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Patricia Burroughs, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Patricia Burroughs)
I don't recall reading anything before about what it was like to be a typical German child during the Third Reich, or what a town's life would have been like under that regime. When I first realized that Zusak was writing from Death's point of view I held back. It's difficult for me to imagine any Death but Terry Pratchett's.
But I was wrong.
Lyrical and intense, beautiful and horrifying, The Book Thief was the best book I read in 2012.
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Knopf Books for Young Readers -
by Sarah H.,
"It's just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery..." Take your time reading this beautifully written book with an innovative approach to storytelling. Narrated by Death and set in World War II Germany, the story revolves around young Liesel Meminger and her foster family as the war creeps up around them. Simply put, this is a masterpiece.
by Sarah H.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"This hefty volume is an achievement — a challenging book in both length and subject, and best suited to sophisticated older readers. The narrator is Death himself, a companionable if sarcastic fellow, who travels the globe 'handing souls to the conveyor belt of eternity.' Death keeps plenty busy during the course of this WWII tale, even though Zusak (I Am the Messenger) works in miniature, focusing on the lives of ordinary Germans in a small town outside Munich. Liesel Meminger, the book thief, is nine when she pockets The Gravedigger's Handbook, found in a snowy cemetery after her little brother's funeral. Liesel's father — a 'Kommunist' — is already missing when her mother hands her into the care of the Hubermanns. Rosa Hubermann has a sharp tongue, but Hans has eyes 'made of kindness.' He helps Liesel overcome her nightmares by teaching her to read late at night. Hans is haunted himself, by the Jewish soldier who saved his life during WWI. His promise to repay that debt comes due when the man's son, Max, shows up on his doorstep. This 'small story,' as Death calls it, threads together gem-like scenes of the fates of families in this tight community, and is punctuated by Max's affecting, primitive artwork rendered on painted-over pages from Mein Kampf. Death also directly addresses readers in frequent asides; Zusak's playfulness with language leavens the horror and makes the theme even more resonant — words can save your life. As a storyteller, Death has a bad habit of forecasting ('I'm spoiling the ending,' he admits halfway through his tale). It's a measure of how successfully Zusak has humanized these characters that even though we know they are doomed, it's no less devastating when Death finally reaches them. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review),
"The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it's a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important."
by School Library Journal (Starred Review),
"Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward....An extraordinary narrative."
by Janet Maslin, The New York Times,
"The Book Thief will be appreciated for Mr. Zusak's audacity....It will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures. And because there's no arguing with a sentiment like that."
"[A] lengthy, powerful story....There's too much commentary at the outset, and too much switching from past to present time, but...the astonishing characters, drawn without sentimentality, will grab readers."
by The Horn Book (Starred Review),
"Exquisitely written and memorably populated....A tour de force to be not just read but inhabited."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"Zusak's writing is at times marred by some postmodern tricks...but, overall, his style is lyrical and moving....It's unlikely young readers will forget what this atrocity looked like through the eyes of Death."
by Philadelphia Inquirer,
"[S]trange, poetically descriptive, and, at times, ruthlessly bleak....[Liesel's] story is remarkable in that it's one of many equally tragic ones — and because it takes a special talent to find its moments of beauty among the rubble."
by USA Today,
"Zusak may not have lived under Nazi domination, but The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel's Night. It seems poised to become a classic."
by Time Magazine,
"Zusak doesn't sugarcoat anything, but he makes his ostensibly gloomy subject bearable the same way Kurt Vonnegut did in Slaughterhouse-Five: with grim, darkly consoling humor."
by The Wall Street Journal,
"One of the most highly anticipated young-adult books in years."
A New York Times bestseller for seven years running that's soon to be a major motion picture, this Printz Honor book by the author of I Am the Messenger is an unforgettable tale about the ability of books to feed the soul.
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel 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 before he is marched to Dachau.
The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
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