30 March 2014

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

893136Title- The Book Thief
Author- Markus Zusak
Genre- Young Adult, Historical Fiction, War
Format- Paperback
UK Publisher- Black Swan
Publication Date- September 8th 2007
Buy paperback- HERE

*I was sent the enhanced ebook from the publisher for review, thank you Random House Kids. This does not affect my thoughts in this review.*

It is 1939, Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbours during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Zusak's The Book Thief is an incredible, emotion-inducing book filled with happiness, despair and, most of all, hope. Told from the perspective of Death, it is unlike anything I have ever read.

When I started out reading this book, I wasn't too sure what to expect. The blurb is very mysterious and careful not to give away secrets. I had previously seen the movie trailer and heard so many people talking about it, naming it as a favourite (especially Catriona from LittleBookOwl). When I received an Amazon gift card for Christmas, I went on a book-buying spree and could not say no to this!

Bored on New Year's Eve, I began reading. That night, as hard as I tried, I only managed to get through the prologue. Whether that was because I was not yet used to the voice of Death or there were too many distractions, I do not know, however this did become a recurring theme. I read a chapter, did something else and then not read again for a few days. This is probably why it took me a month to read (well, that and the 554 pages which it holds).

Soon enough though, things started really picking up. I fell in love with the character of Liesel and her spirit. Even in these terribly hard times which she faced, this young girl was hopeful, wishing for a world like her ones she read about in her books, wishing to be invisible like the character who was imagined by H.G. Wells. Her adventures with Rudy were a delight to read and seeing them slowly fall in love made the ending hit ten times harder.

Speaking of the ending, I won't spoil it for you but, as you can expect from a war book, it wasn't pretty. I had tears pouring from my eyes, something which doesn't happen often (think Clockwork Princess sadness) and even though it was incredibly hard to read, I was happy with the ending. The prologue reminded me of a beautiful, under-rated line from chapter one; 'The journey continued like everything had happened.' Even though this young girl had been through so much in her short life, enough to last a lifetime, she kept going on the journey called life. 

Since reading the book, I was given the opportunity to see the enhanced ebook version by Random House Kids. It contains the original ebook and, dotted throughout, you can find clips from the movie which will mirror the scene which you have just read. I think this is a brilliant idea because this book can be difficult to visualize as we do not know a world like it. Also, there are two short featurettes on the actors who play Liesel and Hans (Sophie Nelisse and Geoffrey Rush) which show a behind the scenes glimpse of casting, directing and acting. Markus Zusak and the director, 
Brian Percival, give their thoughts on working with the actors and then they, themselves, gave thoughts on their characters. You can then find a six-and-a-half minute video where Zusak answered questions such as 'What inspired you to write this novel?' which is great for fans who are desperate to learn more. Finally, there is attached the trailer to encourage you to see the film. Overall, I really do like these added features and I think it really would be worth investing in!

You can get the enhanced ebook edition on iTunes HERE.


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