Going into The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, I kind of knew what to expect having read a review of the book only just a few weeks before. I knew that the book was going to be narrated by Death which excited me but also made me a bit nervous because I wondered if that would turn me off while reading. To my good fortune, I found Death's perspective to be uniquely imaginative and oddly comforting.
The book begins with Death describing the main character to us, Liesel or soon to be known as the book thief. Liesel is going with her brother to stay with a foster family but on the train over her brother dies. After his funeral, Liesel steals her first book. She brings the book to her new home with Hans and Rosa Hubermann in Germany. The haunting memory of her brother being taken by Death returns to her most often in her dreams and Hans comes every night to comfort her. They soon start up a routine in which Hans teaches Liesel to read. This routine stays consistent for most of the book.
The plot of the story is woven around the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and Liesel's struggle to function around so much hatred. Books, to her, are a source of comfort, as is stealing. Characters around her are inspired by her love for reading, including a Jewish fist fighter Liesel comes to befriend named Max.
I feel like I've given as much info away as possible without ruining the story so lets get to the actual review. Not only do I have a strange obsession with "keep calm and carry on" posters but also war. I don't agree with war yet I love reading about war. I still have yet to figure out why I feel this way. Needless to say, this turned me on to the book straight away. I loved hearing how the war progressed and how it affected Liesel's small street. Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed throughout reading this book was the use of figurative language, especially when talking about the sky. Death constantly talks about the color of the sky and uses almost every adjective you wouldn't expect to describe it. Zusak seemed to really challenge the typical metaphors writers use and shaped them into something with a different but new and wonderful beauty. Death's descriptions of his job taking souls away was also very intriguing. It makes the reader wonder if Death really is this sort of creature who has a job just like everyone else and wonder about the afterlife.
The characters were very likeable. Liesel is the child with no one but her books, Hans is the quiet yet loving foster father, Rosa the strict foster mother, Max the inspiring outcast, Rudy the book's humor, and Death the haunting narrator.
The only complaint I have about this book is the ending. While it was very powerful and moving with a great last line, it all happened so fast. The fast ending still speaks to me about how fast something can happen that changes our lives forever but I still think there needed to be a bit more explanation about Liesel's life after the events that occurred. Another thing I didn't like about the ending was how Death kept hinting about it towards the end of the novel. I figured out what was going to happen and I know that was probably what Zusak was going for but I'd prefer to be surprised at the end.
Overall, I give the Book Thief a 3.5/5. Spoiler- be prepared to cry at the end.