Review: The Book Thief

I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.

As grim and depressing as a book set around Nazi Germany narrated by death can be, I actually quite enjoyed this story. Zusak certainly has quite a way with words and the story is alternatively terrifying (in a way that makes you think) and touching (likewise).

People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.

Somehow I’ve managed to hit a number of Holocaust adjacent books in a row and I think I like this one the most. It’s told from the perspective of a non- Jewish family trying to survive as best they can in times of war and worse. I think the best part is that it gives a feeling for what it would be like to be an early teen around those times. It’s a crazy idea.

The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.

Structurally, Zusak tries and mostly succeeds to do something very interesting. The narrator of the story is Death and from time to time, we have snippets from His point of view. People we know (or not) dying, things we otherwise wouldn’t know. On top of that, things aren’t always in order. It’s a fascinating story… but I really wish it had been split into two tales. One to tell the story of Liesel Meminger, Book Thief (who really only stole a couple of books) and another to tell the story of Death. Together, it’s just… jarring.

Overall, it’s a solid book and I’m glad to have read it.