The Book Thief [Full Review]

Something you should know

This novel is narrated by Death -Literally-

The book thief, as the back cover says, is a story of Liesel, a girl whose job is to steal books, amid war, street bombing and Jews. About too many Jews.
What caught my attention was first a friend, then the title of the book, and then a comment on Goodreads.

It's about addicting books, about addicting words, thinking they're our only savior. Sometimes they actually are, but other times they're a curse.
I could really relate to this novel and to many of the girl's thoughts because I always seem to be struggling with words that I once wrote this quote to myself: "Everything is so much easier in words than how it really seems alive".
To not spoil anything, bookworms and writers would really understand this novel perfectly well as it is written and weep with it along each chapter and/or part.
What I liked best while reading was the tragedy and pain mixed with hilariousness and comedy, perhaps black comedy, but it made me-literally-laugh out loud. Yet at the very end I had to cry, and if you know me pretty well..I don't really cry in movies and barely in books.
The end was a shock to me, it taught me too many things that we keep forgetting as life keeps sucking the breath out of us each and every single day. I'll mention some down here.

The language:
I learned some German words! Mostly some cussing, but I honestly felt like I want to learn German, even for a flick of a second.
The overall language wasn't that hard, it was very neatly chosen and, as usual, I've got a dozen new words to learn.

The Symbolism:
The comment on Goodreads said this: "heavy-handed on the symbolism."
I knew once I read this sentence that this book is for people like me. I do agree at first it was not that easy to understand what this symbolic phrase meant, but as I went by, phrases seemed to be working just fine in my head and well interpreted. If they tell you "Don't judge a book by its cover", I'd say, in this novel, don't judge it by the first few chapters, because by the time you understood the plot very well, it won't be hard to get the hidden meanings within the phrases.

The Narrator:
At first you won't get how this is going, but this novel really is narrated by the life-taker aka Death; which makes it way more interesting than any other novel. He seemed to be a friend or a lover first, and then an enemy, or just the fate everyone will one day meet. Death, in this novel, is a great lesson.

  • If you're certain that what you'll do isn't wrong, do it here, do it now, because tomorrow may just be a little too late.
  • When there is pain, there is also a hidden consolation, or a warm hug out there.
  • Friendship, it's way more than how you define it..
  • Sometimes words will fail you, but there will always be a chance to right the wrong.
  • You'll certainly get mad at the wrong people sometime.
  • Fate is a beautiful thing to understand.

"But then, is there cowardice in the acknowledgement of fear? Is there cowardice in being glad that you lived?"

"A book thief requires many things.
Stealth. Nerve. Speed.
More important than any of those things, however, was one final requirement.

"Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.
That was the business of hiding a Jew"

"There is air like plastic, a horizon like setting glue. There are skies manufactured by people, punctured and leaking and there are soft, coal-coloured clouds, beating like black hearts.
And then.
There is death.
Making his way through all of it.
On the surface: unflappable, unwavering.
Below: unnerved, untied and undone."

"Certainly, war meant dying, but it always shifted the ground beneath a person's feet when it was someone who had once lived and breathed in close proximity."

"For some reason, dying men always ask questions they know the answer to. Perhaps it's so they can die being right."

"Tell me something. Because I don't understand . . . Tell me, how she can sit there ready to die while I still want to live? Why do I want to live? I shouldn't want to, but I do."

"I see their ugliness and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing that I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die."

"The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Fuhrer was nothing. There would be no limping prisoners, no need for consolation or wordly tricks to make us feel better."

On a final note:
I would certainly read this novel again, and entitle it as one of my favorite reads.


Noor | July 25, 2011 at 7:54 PM

Your review is really brilliant. Honest!
I missed your reviews. You always manage to make me look at a book I've read in a bit of a new angle, for me it wasn't so much about the writing as it was about the stories of people but when you talk about how it was about words and their power, you're absolutely right.

The German swear words are funny. The characters are so alive don't you think? Her foster parents, her friend, and Liesel herself. They truly feel like real characters.
I loved the ending. It was perfect somehow. And I'd like to actually re-read this one day. I think there's even room in me to appreciate it more.

I'm just really really happy you loved it!

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