Book Thief, The

Zusak, Markus

  10 Reviews

Death serves as the narrator for this unusual novel about the power of words to both destroy and comfort. Set in Munich during World War II, ten-year-old Liesel Meminger learns to read and is transformed into the "book thief". While people in her neighbourhood starve, Liesel hungers after books. When her family decides to hide a Jewish man, she shares her stolen books with her neighbours during bombing raids, as well as with the man hidden in her basement. [Big read}

Comments from Groups

This book was very well liked and generated a very good discussion. We would recommend this to other groups. The notes provided were interesting and the question list was useful. We loved the writing style & descriptive language. Motueka 004

We enjoyed the focus of this book being about ordinary families coping with everyday living in Germany as the events of the Second World War unfolded around them. The choice of `Death` as the narrator was most unusual, but his story was very cleverly and sensitively delivered to the reader. Although a couple of people in our group struggled with the writing style, several others rated it as the best book they have ever read! This was an amazing book that we would definitely recommend to other book groups. Tauranga 038

Generated interesting discussion about the German people during the war. Some of us really enjoyed it and others didn't. Interestingly, two members who had read it for the 2nd time, enjoyed it far more this time as they got more out of it. Ashburton 022

We really enjoyed this book, thought it was slow and almost difficult in the beginning but many of us cried through the final pages. Good discussion especially around what constitutes a `young adult` and when is a good age to introduce books of this sort to them. 10/10. Auckland 303

Brilliantly and unusually written. We loved the language. Different style of writing-an art form! Characterisation superb. Couldn't help but like the `death` character-he held it all together.The futility of war came through really well. Opotiki 001

A wonderful book, fantastic descriptions. Interesting characters. Good insight into the plight of Jewish people and also having to experience the British air raids. Christchurch 257

We had a very good discussion - 11 present, and all 11 really enjoyed the book. Original, very clever, beautifully written, enlightening...these were the most recurrent opinions. Death as the narrator was a convincing ploy, and heart warming. Some people were enlightened by learning that the ordinary German citizen had truly suffered. We felt that the author had done a brilliant job of telling the story of Liesel, her adoptive parents etc etc. Nelson 007

A compelling read, and an original take on a subject that has received extensive literary attention. Can be a little dark for some, but the elements of humour throughout do lighten the mood. Lower Hutt 015

Some found the book to be a little "dark" to begin with, but once into it all found it very interesting and enjoyable. Discussion was lively with different aspects of the book appealing to different people. All found the historical aspect, particularly the fact that it was written from the German perspective, very enlightening, and the "fear" of the Nazis was an aspect none had considered. Great read. Wonderful characters. would thoroughly recommend. Auckland 320

Some of us thought it was the best book club book ever. Others had reservations. There were too many metaphors and some were very strained. The discussion was prolonged - 1 1/2 hours - and most of us more or less agreed on the merits of the book. It exploited one's sentimentality a bit, the good were almost unreservedly good and the bad were all bad. BUT we gave it 8.5/10. Wanganui 011

Overall, our group enjoyed the movie more than the book. An unusual approach to storytelling. Some of us disliked the "voice" of Death very strongly. We thought the book would appeal to young adults, and they would like the fantasy element of having Death as the narrator. Clyde 001

This discussion group loved The Book Thief. Our discussion on question 4, relating to the use of words, was animated and thought-provoking, especially in relation to Liesel's emerging literacy, and use in propaganda. The imagery within the crisp clear narrative was commented on. The bold sentences within a chapter drew our attention and focused the reading. Surely one of the best reads this year. Katikati 005



Enjoyed by all. Many read for the second time.
CHCH 558
This was our second book on the topic of the holocaust; that plus the book being almost 600 pages meant that quite a few members didn't read it - keep that in mind if you choose it. However, it's not a heavy book given the topic. Described as richly descriptive and poetic, with one of the members really enjoying the imagery it evoked. We all enjoyed the character development. One of us thought it could be a bit shorter.
There was much discussion about what happens in the book, and what we humans do to each other in times of war, so it was voted a great read by our group.
CHCH 247
Everyone enjoyed. Great discussion, in spite of the fact that most readers are weary of war novels. It was a change to have a story from the German perspective.
AUCK 307
Two people thought it was too long and dragged a little. Everyone else "couldn't put it down'. The book provided wonderful insights about a German community during war time, the amazing breadth of human behaviour from bravery, generosity, cruelty, selfishness and disregard for human life. The style was unusual but effective... The characters were well developed and the language was exquisite.
AUCK 313
Our group loved this book! We had a great discussion about the writing, the story, life in WWII Germany...also what choices we ourselves would have made. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.
Engaging narrative, beautiful language, surprising and thought-provoking discussion about death and the power of words.
Very favourable reviews from 85% of the group. Many enjoyed the rich, evocative language and appreciated the opportunity to view WWII through German eyes, particularly 'everyday' Germany and the effects upon ordinary people. Really enjoyed the novelty of 'Death' as narrator and his compassion.
We all really enjoyed the book, and had a great discussion. A different style of writing but it fitted the narrator.
NELS 072
Our group struggled to read this book,most enjoyed the movie more. The way this book is narrated from death's point of view made us confused in some parts, and we needed to jump back to understand what was going on. It was a meaty subject and horrible to see what humans can do to each other.