5 stars

How do I even begin to describe my love for this book? I’ve read it twice now and each reading was just as incredible as the other.

Markus Zusack has a wonderful way of combining the bleak and the depressing with the uplifting and beautiful. The joy of youth is intertwined masterfully with the fear and savagery associated with the Nazis. There are certain scenes which will never leave me.

I think, however, that my favourite aspects were the characters and their relationships with one another. I enjoyed seeing Liesel grow up from a frightened little girl to a headstrong young woman, I loved seeing her relationship with Max grow and develop into something profound, and I adored the way that characters’ facades were stripped away. You see a small town at war, some of whom are Nazis, and others who are just trying to do the best they can in an awful situation. Characters such as Rosa Hubermann and Frau Holtzapfel appear brash and nasty, but, as time goes by, and the effects of the war begin to wear them down, their true colours are revealed, their vulnerabilities exposed.

Even in the lightest of scenes, the threat of the Nazis still looms large, emphasised by Death’s narration, a symbolic writing ploy if ever I saw one. Although some may find the narrator’s comments intrusive, I found that it helped me to see the scale of what was happening. Throughout the book, Death shows us snapshots of suffering and the many souls that he has had to carry away during the war, and it allows Zusack to comment on the idiocy of humanity’s fighting from the perspective of an outsider, fictitious as this outsider may be.

I would urge everyone to give The Book Thief a try and, although it is perhaps not for everyone, I think I can safely say that it will remain one of my favourite books for a very long time.

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