The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Book review by:

Abigail Casson

When you read this book, you will not see the world in the same way for a little while. For me, its effects still linger years after having put it down. Of course, I cannot guarantee that this will be the case, but I will nevertheless stick to my guns in believing that Markus Zusak is an outstanding writer. I loved this book for three particular reasons. The first is its subject matter: the Second World War. As an avid lover of history, this was always going to be an appealing aspect for me. But, Zusak does not simply write about the War, it plays in the background like a familiar tune that every now and again is brought to your attention when a melody arises that you had never realised was there.

This book taught me about the War in subtle ways – book burnings, forbidden friendships, and looming uncertainty – and I loved every moment of learning. Secondly, Death. Not death as in the loss of life, but Death as in the narrator of the book, an ethereal figure who both humours and hangs onto the heart of the reader. Zusak’s choice of Death to lead us through Liesel’s story is unique and interesting, and the voice of this reaper, who works throughout the book to dismantle any preconceptions that you might hold of such a word, is enchanting. Death is fascinated with and by humans, and colour too. This brings me onto my third point as to why you should read this book, the reason behind why my perception of the world has forever changed: light. Death sees colour in everything, and it is how he describes the world through his eyes, amass with colour and light that stream into one, is unforgettable. Ever since reading this book, I have developed a deep love for light, from sunrise to sunset, and especially in the golden afternoon. With those three key reasons aside, I shall summarise with a more practical note.

This book is the kind that you cannot put down, no matter how tightly it squeezes your heart. It will make you sad, but leave you warmed. I cannot recommend it highly enough.