The Book Thief – A Review

A little over a week ago I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I feel that my review of this can be summed up by just two words – ‘Read it.’

In the interest of completeness I will try and do a proper review. The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany and follows the story of a young girl named Liesel Meminger. What is perhaps most interesting is that the narrator of the book is Death – though he is quite clear that he doesn’t actually carry a scythe.

The novel has a non-liner approach. We are told what is going to happen before it happens. While River Song might say ‘Spoilers’ – this style of story telling works.

The characters in this book are well developed and the story works well in its unconventional style. There are parts of it that are drawn, ostensibly by one of the characters, unfortunately these don’t work too well on the kindle version.

I’m desperately trying here not to give too much away so I think I’ll change tack. As the story is set in Nazi Germany it naturally involves the war. When we learn about Nazi Germany in school it is taught in a relatively simplistic way. Its all too easy to fall into the idea of the evil Germans and the glorious British fighting the good fight. However, as John Green is found of saying, ‘Truth resists simplicity.’

The truth, as is important for this book, is that Britain did drop bombs on Germany. German civilians went to the shelters and huddled there waiting for the all clear. These parts made for some uncomfortable reading as I realised that the enemy they refereed to was us. It is important to note that the German civilians were hardly a united front. Obviously Hitler had has supports but many, maybe even most, disagreed with the evil things he was doing. People were scared and caught up in a dangerous predicament.

‘They don’t have to be everywhere to make people believe they might be living next door.’ (‘The Exercise of Vital Powers‘ Babylon 5)

It is difficult to say more about this without giving the plot away. So I will close this review by saying…

The Book Thief is an excellent book with great characters, a interesting setting, and a fantastically unique narrator. It is a book about war and death but offers a new perspective on a period of history we think we know. Of course it is fiction, the places aren’t real, but the essence of the story is true. I suggest you read the book now or, if you so prefer, go and see the film.

Vila: I’m entitled to my opinion.
Avon: It is your assumption that we are entitled to it as well that is irritating.
Blake’s 7: “Bounty”

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