The Book Thief | Teen Ink

The Book Thief

April 6, 2009
By LaylaMB SILVER, Columbus, Ohio
LaylaMB SILVER, Columbus, Ohio
8 articles 3 photos 0 comments

Death is not only used as a theme and symbol in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, but it is also the narrator. In this book, Death gives the reader a different perspective of what death means in Nazi Germany by looking in his eyes, rather than the victim's. He follows foster child Liesel Meminger because he believes she is different from most humans. The Book Thief is truly a novel that will give readers shivers down their spine, goose bumps on their arms, and a tear in their eyes by the time they turn to the final page.

If a book is to be considered a work of art, it is crucial that there is a solid plot that will grab the reader’s attention. Early on in The Book Thief, the reader discovers a plot that is out of this world. For the first time in literature history, there is a book that takes place in Nazi Germany that does not have a biased opinion toward either party (Germans/Nazis vs. Jewish society)! Events that occur in this book are random at times, but by the end, all those events intertwine and make sense because they have hidden meanings. The Book Thief is interesting in the sense that there is so much going on at once, but the reader does not realize it because everything can be linked back to a common event in the book. It flowed nicely and kept the reader reading because of its unique structure.

Zusak draws a picture of what the characters look like and behave in The Book Thief. Liesel, Rudy, Max, Hans, Rosa, and numerous others are described not only in words, but the actions they take. After reading The Book Thief, readers will be able to relate one of the characters to a person they know in real life. The characters created are bold and could very well be real people because they are developed and have a voice of their own. Major or minor, protagonist or antagonist, every character contributed someway to the outcome of the novel, which makes The Book Thief standout.

The setting plays an important role in this novel. So many aspects, events, and mishaps that occur are based on the fact that it takes place in Nazi Germany. The whole ending of the book would be different if it was not set in the little town outside of Munich. Zusak describes the setting as if he were there. Readers will feel like they have been transported through time as they read this epic story.

The overall lessons and themes of The Book Thief are deep and mature. Death and color are major themes that require a philosophical outlook on the book to understand. For example, one of the final passages in the book is about death. To understand this passage, the reader has to have an understanding of what death means to the protagonist to make connections. Every theme is a factor of what and why things happen. The reader needs to be able to see abstractly, which a lot of this book is.

Within this book, there are particular words and structures Zusak uses that differ than other books. At one point in the book, there is a “story within a story.” Little side notes and inside clues are spread throughout the story coming from Death’s angle. The way the book is set up makes it seem like it is Death’s personal journal, causing the reader to feel what he was feeling at a given point in time. Style gives literature flavor, which The Book Thief has.

There is not one section of this book where the reader wants to stop reading. A connection is created instantly as soon as one reads the situations the hero is facing. This book keeps readers biting their nails until the climax and sobbing at the end when pain is evident in the hero’s eyes. Everything is described by showing rather than telling, which gives readers an experience as if they are in the book as well. The Book Thief is memorable and should be read by everyone to learn a lesson not only in dying, but living.

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This article has 41 comments.

Joyce said...
on Apr. 16 2009 at 2:04 am
Great book review! I love Book Thief as well! I think it is one of the best books I read so far.