I honestly have quite some difficulty writing a review for this book − it has shaken me up and wrung me out, and I fear that I may not be able to do it justice.
You see, I am seriously considering The Book Thief to be one of the best books I have ever read, and I honestly can’t find any reason why it shouldn’t be.
Markus Zusak is an incredibly talented writer, and this is made very clear in this book. I often stopped reading just to marvel at how beautifully written a sentence or paragraph was, or how remarkably clear World War II Germany was in my mind.
With each page turn I found myself wanting more, but was scared to read on too quickly, for fear that I should finish it too soon. You cannot unread a book; you can reread it a million times or more, but never again will you have that same precious ignorance of what will happen next. The Book Thief is a book to savour and enjoy, and though you may not be able to be completely surprised the second time you read it, I do not believe that will lessen the book in any way. When a major event was blatantly exposed before it happened in the book, I was quite upset at Zusak’s (writing as Death himself) insensitivity. However, as I read on, I realised that knowing about the event before it happened did not make it any less profound or shocking. By knowing part of the end, I was eager to hold on to the story for as long as I could. And it worked − despite reading this novel rather quickly, I don’t feel I rushed it or skipped over a single word. Rather I was caught in a paradox of anticipation and dread for the ending to come, and I clung to every word on the page.
So when you read this book, get angry, or sad or maybe even guilty, but don’t give up on it. Enjoy the intense response you have to the story and every character in it. Do not blame them for the unfairness of it all. Do not sit back and let it all come to pass. Rather, lean closer and take in Death’s story. Death may not always be welcome, or kind, or patient, but he is a phenomenal story teller and an incredible wordsmith. Lean in close and take in this incredible book.
The Book Thief is in cinemas on January 9th 2014 and is set to be a well made and presented film. I will certainly be going to see it, and so should you! (After you’ve read the book of course – see Niav’s last post for book and movie comparisons)