The Book Thief

I've been meaning to do it for a while, and I finally re-read Markus Zusak's 2006 masterpiece, The Book Thief. I originally read it about 8 years ago, when I was 17.

As is so often the case with books I read pre-university, I didn't really remember much about it apart: I remembered Death-the-narrator, Nazi Germany, and a little girl who loved to read. Of course, all that information is available on the back of the book, so I don't even know if I legitimately remember it or not.

Obviously, I don't remember how 17-year-old Sam reacted to it after reading it the first time, but I can tell you how 25-year-old Sam reacted: awestruck.

The writing in this book is, in my opinion, wonderful. It draws you in and doesn't let you go for 500 pages, trailing after Liesel as she learns to read, discovers the power of words, and, ultimately, becomes the book thief.

I don't usually like extensive descriptions in books. I complain when there's too much figurative language and grumble when the setting is described over the course of several paragraphs instead of a couple of sentences. So I shouldn't have loved the writing, but I did. It was magical.

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.
— Liesel Meminger aka The Book Thief

I also love the style. Choosing Death as your narrator is a bold move, though, really, during WWII, who else would be able to describe the quality of life in Nazi Germany than Death himself (itself?).

One thing I never thought: that Death would have a dry sense of humour. Sometimes you can't help yourself smiling along with what he's saying, then the next instant, you're struck by grief. Grief for the dying characters, grief for Liesel's suffering, grief for the knowledge that this story, though fictional, was based on real life.

I was a mess by the time I reached the end. I could go on about The Book Thief for a while, but I truly think this is a book that any book/word lover should read at some point, if only to gain an appreciation for an unusual narrative style.

I am haunted by humans.
— Death