I remember picking this book up in a store once or twice, reading the blurb on the back, and putting it down again.  There was just something about it that didn’t appeal. Maybe I was being picky, so many people had raved about it, and the film was due out.  So when it was my book club’s pick for May, I greeted it positively.

In a nutshell, it is the story of a girl, Liesel,who is fostered with a family in Monching, Hitler’s birthplace, just before world war 2.  It is a finely detailed adventure through the impacts of anti-semitism, Hitler’s economic and social policies and their impact on the general population, and growing up in impoverished circumstances.  I started out intrigued, and slightly wrong-footed, by the point of view, since the story is told by Death, but it focuses almost entirely on Liesel’s perspective.  It’s quirky and strange, with odd interjections in bold face, explaining certain vernacular details, or providing some extra scene-setting or character information in a format like a text box.

The quirkiness lost its charm as the tale progressed, and I’m afraid I was finding it a duty to read, rather than an enjoyment.  Yes, I was ‘somewhat interested’ in what happened to Liesel, but on the whole, I didn’t enjoy it, and spent many days wishing I didn’t have to read it.  It became tedious. I jumped over to another book, and then another before I dragged myself back to it.  But I did drag myself back to it.  It had just enough fascination not to be abandoned.  I can’t imagine how they made it into a film, though.  I don’t intend to find out.

A unique perspective on a well-thumbed period of history.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  • 7 June, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I totally share your bewilderment with this book. I liked the premise but once I started reading it, It was a total chore. I confess after 5 attempts I could not finish it and I donated it to our library. We do have similar tastes Jemima so I am not surprised we agree wholeheartedly on this one.

    • 7 June, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      It’s odd, isn’t it. I can’t work out what it is that makes it unappealing after a while. I’m glad I’m not the only one, Julie, after so many have raved about it!

  • 7 June, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Jemima, I had the exact same reaction. I set it down for several months after I started it, then decided to see it through. I think because the story was so depressing – and of course you know it will be going in – I could only absorb it in small amounts. I finally finished it but was left with a flat feeling at the end. Never saw the movie.

    • 7 June, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      I replied to Julie before I saw your comment. Interesting that we had the same reaction to it. I think my book club had a similar response, though – I missed the meeting and haven’t seen many of them since. I must check what their response was – lukewarm, I think!

  • 9 June, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Good to see this–I’ve been wondering if I should read it. Your reaction says I probably won’t like it, based on some other opinions we’ve shared!

    I gather Death isn’t like Pratchett’s Death 🙂

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