A Remarkably Refreshing Re-Read

Posted on March 14, 2016 «
Categories: book review, the Encore «
Join in on the Conversation «
Is this a book review? Jump to the Quick Review

This book is a re-read. As a result, this review may contain spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
book review book thief markus zusak

Book Review
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Linn Area Reads is a community and library partnership in the county where I live. This year, the selection committee picked The Book Thief by Markus Zusak which I read back in 2010. Part of the program includes discussion groups and a visit from the author. And since the date they announced that The Book Thief had been selected and Markus Zusak would be visiting Iowa, I immediately set out to re-read the book.

I did enjoy my second read through of The Book Thief, but I wasn’t as enamored with it as I was 6 years ago. I have grown as a reader and have encounter other World War II novels and that have struck a stronger chord with me in the intervening years.

When I first read the book I was intrigued by Death being the narrator. It provided a point a view that I had not encountered before. And it revealed that everyone, including Death, is affected by War. Death was personified as a being with thoughts and feelings. On this second read through, I felt disconnected from the story. This third-person observation of the events didn’t touch me as deeply as it did the first time around although I did discover some things I missed on my first read through.

Things I Discovered about The Book Thief

book review book thief markus zusak
  • The colors black, red and white repeat themselves over and over again—the colors of the Nazi flag. The colors that define good and bad (white & black). The color that defines passion and love (red). Grey shows up again and again as well. It is a reminder that the world isn’t all black and white.

  • Liesel loves her adopted father, Hans. Never is this more clear than in the chapter Champagne and Accordions. I wanted to hug this chapter. I totally missed their love for each other the first time around and this particular chapter drove it home and made me tear up and miss my own father.

  • The shadow of World War I plays a big part in this story. It’s the reason Hans feels obligated to help Max. It’s the reason Germany was swept up in Hitler’s rhetoric. It’s the reason the Mayor’s wife is so sad and broken. WWI could almost be considered another character in the story.

  • Music plays an important role in the story almost as important as books. That accordian survived 2 wars. Hans loved to play it. Remember Rosa with the accordion when Hans was drafted? Liesel, at the end of the story, is referred to as “the one with the accordion.” Music, like books, bring people together and can save lives.

  • Finally, this book is a reminder that WWII was not just about the Nazi’s plan to eliminate those races they considered inferior. It was about the subjugation of whole countries and its citizens. Everyone suffered. Even Death.

The Book Thief is a compelling read and certainly warrants a re-read. I’m glad I took the time to freshen my memory and take part in the discussion groups offered by the Linn Area Reads program. It certainly helped me examine aspects of the book I hadn’t considered before and helped me connect with the story on a different level.


The Quick Book Review

A Remarkably Refreshing Re-Read

The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak
Published on: September 18, 2007
Pages: 567
Genres: historical fiction, young adult
Goodreads • Amazon Affiliate Link
My Rating: Thumbs Up

About Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak was born in 1975 and is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief , which is translated into more than forty languages. First released in 2005, The Book Thief has spent a total of 375 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and still remains there eight years after it first came out.

His first three books, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and When Dogs Cry (also known as Getting the Girl ), released between 1999 and 2001, were all published internationally and garnered a number of awards and honours in his native Australia, and the USA.

The Messenger (or I am the Messenger ), published in 2002, won the 2003 Australian Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award (Older Readers) and the 2003 NSW Premier's Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize), as well as receiving a Printz Honour in America. It also won numerous national readers choice awards across Europe, including the highly regarded Deutscher Jugendliteratur prize in Germany.

It is The Book Thief , however, that has established Markus Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia. To date, The Book Thief has held the number one position at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, the New York Times bestseller list, as well as in countries across South America, Europe and Asia. It has also been in the top five bestsellers in the UK and several other territories. It has amassed many and varied awards, ranging from literary prizes to readers choice awards to prizes voted on by booksellers. It was the only book to feature on both the USA and UK World Book Night Lists in 2012, and has now been adapted into a major motion picture.

The Book Thief (the film adaptation) is directed by Emmy Award-winning Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) and was shot in Berlin by Twentieth Century Fox. The cast is headlined by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine, The King’s Speech) and Academy Award nominee Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves, Anna Karenina). It also includes exciting new talents Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, and Sophie Nelisse (Monsieur Lazhar), with Nelisse cast as The Book Thief , Liesel Meminger.

The Guardian calls The Book Thief “a novel of breathtaking scope, masterfully told.” The New York Times: “Brilliant and hugely ambitious…the kind of book that can be life-changing.” The Age: “an original, moving, beautifully written book.”

Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.

(from GoodReads)


book review book thief markus zusak book review book thief markus zusak book review book thief markus zusak book review book thief markus zusak

Tags: , , , , ,

6 responses to “A Remarkably Refreshing Re-Read

  1. TheSeedQueen

    *breaks into song*
    Red: the blood of angry men!
    Black: the dark of ages past!
    Red: a world about to dawn!
    Black: the night that ends at last!

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I too enjoyed The Book Thief a few years ago. I heard the movie couldn’t capture the magic of the book though.

  2. (I think my comment deleted itself?! If I comment twice; sorry in advance. !!) Anyway, so I really really want to re-read this!! I do want to try it via audio though, because I really want to know how that’d work out (with all Death’s footnotes) and eep, I love re-reading via audio. :’) This book is so amazingly phenomenal though. AHHHH.

    • I would love to give this one a shot via audiobook especially since I have read the physical book twice. I will say that I did NOT like the voice of Death after watching the movie for the first time last night. The voice seemed too light-hearted and not cynical enough.

      (And I didn’t see two comments so I’m not sure what happened to your first one!)

  3. I tried reading this one a year ago and couldn’t get into it due to my mood. I’m definitely going to have to try again because I’ve heard so many great things and your review really points out some huge positives. Nice review!