Book Review -The Book Thief, Markus Zusak


Book Review – The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

c. Markus Zusak 2005 (See publication for all other copyrights please)

“This is the tale of the Book Thief as narrated by death…”

OK, so I admit that even though I write, and read, a lot I was a chapter in before I made the connection between this fundamental part of the book i.e. the blurb and the text. I am therefore not issuing you with a spoiler alert when I inform you that this is a book written by death. She/he/it is the narrator and a very effective and engaging one at that.

For those who know me, you will remember I always try to read a book before I watch the film. I prefer my imagination to appreciate the work of the author first. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy adaptations made by the film industry, I just don’t like to visualise the chosen actors above the images developed in the text by the original story teller. I know this book is now a film but I haven’t seen it, yet. My opinion is therefore on the written words, which I have to say had me captivated within the first few pages. The first chapter is called Death and Chocolate, who could resist that ‘hook’.

I was surprised to see this on the Young Adult (YA) shelves in Waterstones, my bookstore of choice, as I feel this may limit those who choose to read it. Whilst it is easy to read and very suitable for the YA audience it tells a great story which is all we can really expect from a novel isn’t it? Or is it? This book contains real history and some fairly graphic reminders of the horror of war, all expressed with simplicity and beauty in the words, that the horror is all the more poignant.

“…a thousand bomber planes flew towards a place known as Koln. For me, the result was five hundred people…Five hundred souls….It was only the children I carried in my arms…”

A method employed by the author is to include what I call ‘bullet points’ or ‘thoughts’ interspersed throughout. Just a few words which prompt the reader to pay attention, to think of what may be important, a reference point to bring the tale together. The skill of the author came through in these concise, matter of fact words, just a few words which sometimes dictated the whole chapter.

I highly recommend this book, please don’t be put off, as I know some are in a reverse snobbery sort of way, by the ‘bestseller’ tag. This is a best seller for all the right reasons in my opinion, so get yourself over to the YA shelf and pick it up. Also just to confuse you Waterstones and no doubt other bookstores don’t always label shelves YA, so look around, it could be teen fiction or various other signage.

Let me know your thoughts once you’ve read it, I promise it won’t take you long, it’s a snuggle up and finish type of tale.




I’m a writer and creativity coach focused on sharing my love of travel, writing and books. I motivate, educate and widen horizons by blogging about my world of travel and words, writing books and encouraging others to find their voice.

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