The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a book I’ve encountered many times before but never really picked up because of well, the cover. HAHAHA.. I know they say that “You must not judge a book by its cover.” Let’s be honest though, most of the time, we do. It’s just human nature, I guess. That’s where the book designers come to play. They MUST make the book covers interesting and eye-catching.
Anyway, now that I have picked it up and read it (after much struggle with time), I can confirm that I LOVE THIS BOOK! It’s a story I never thought I would enjoy given the setting and its time. It was, after all, around the time of the 2nd World War, a time of much suffering and sorrow in Germany and other countries involved. The Book Thief is a story that involves Leisel Meminger, a young German girl, who is sent to a foster home in Molching, Germany and her adventures of “book theivery.”
The interesting part of this book is how it is told from the perspective of, not Liesel nor an anonymous narrator but by Death. Yup, Death – the hooded creature (only when it’s cold) which we all imagine to be holding a scythe (which he doesn’t, he assures) and comes for those whose time on Earth has come to an end. In many parts of the story, he shows a fascinating point-of-view and a unique voice which only makes sense because of his nature and character.
The narration of the story is not always linear but most of the time, he tells the impending result which Death explains is because he doesn’t like surprises nor does he like giving it. He claims he was softening the blow, by revealing details little by little however, that makes it even harder for the reader. It crushes you bit by bit knowing that the inevitable is coming and you’d just have to read on to find out. Every chapter inches you closer to the end and you feel a series of mixed emotions that make you question, “Do I want it to end? Do I want to find out?” The answer is always “YES” but also “NO.”
The characters are very likeable because of their warmth despite a tough demeanour. This was especially apparent in Liesel’s foster mother, Rosa Hubermann. She is a stern woman who does not shy away from cursing at people and telling them off, even to her new foster child, Liesel. Despite her harsh words though, you could see her love for her family through her actions. Actions do speak louder than words. Personally, Rosa Hubermann reminds me of my own mother. She’s the type of person who would not show her soft side and most of the time, her concern comes off as a reprimand. This is why I appreciate the character of Rosa Hubermann; she has a special place in my heart. Hans Hubermann, Liesel’s foster father, on the other hand, is not like Rosa at all. He is warm both on the outside and the inside. Hans is the quintessential father figure you could ever think of. It’s hard not to like him. In fact, most people say he’s their favourite character in the book.
[As a side note, it took me a while to figure out that Frau meant “Ms. or Madame.” The whole time I was thinking, “Man, the author likes the name, Frau, doesn’t he? He uses it for all the women characters.” I’m not even sure if it was explained in the beginning or not. Haha..]
Words are very powerful. They inspire. They move people. They drive people. They also destroy. This is the message that I got from the book apart from the typical family, love, loyalty, friendship themes. Words can be used as a weapon. The bearer of words has the power to influence, convince and move people. It’s a very dangerous weapon when weilded by the wrong person. This book not only promotes love for reading books but also the cultivation of using words and its importance.
If you’re thinking if you should read the book or not, JUST READ IT! Don’t even think about it too much. The worst that can happen is you don’t find it appealing but at least you’ve read it. =)
NinthMelody rating: 9/10*
*changed the rating system to give a wider range of distinction to the ones I like and don’t like