It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel 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 neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This book is well-researched, has a good plot, has a good story and, like Fahrenheit 451, tells a story about how vital books are in our history, culture and society. It really makes you think. The characters are thoughtful and incisive, the history put in well. The only thing about this book is that it is NOT for people who just want a fast read.
The story is narrated by Death himself, who carries a notebook that belonged to Liesel after she leaves it. So, in a way, they are both book thieves. Death has a personality in this story. If something bad happens, Death warns you ahead of time. Death is trying to understand the human race as you progress through this book. The descriptions and story inside this book are like unlike anything I’ve ever really read before. Liesel steals randomly at first, and later more methodically, but she’s never greedy. She’s…stealing with a purpose, I guess. To save books. To enjoy them and learn from them.
The concepts in this story are amazing, the outlook that death himself has and the story he tells about Liesel. All stories are different when they are told by different people, and Death’s narration to this story is surreal, poignant and beautifully written. This book is a tribute, an ode, to those people who can keep the part of themselves that defines humanity in the midst of a war. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 550