The Book Thief by Markus Zusak {Book Review}

I know there’s been quite a hype around this book for quite some time, and it’s been on my wishlist for a few years because I really wanted to see for myself what was so good about it.

I finally got it last Christmas as a gift from HB and read a page or two on Christmas Day, then decided to focus on the book in the new year instead. I still had a book to finish then and didn’t want to criss-cross too much but instead focus on it when I didn’t have anything else tugging on my attention.

I do love the cover of the edition I have, it’s quite an interesting illustration to admire. I mean, Death holding hands with a little girl, it has to spark some interest, right?

I haven’t watched the movie yet, which I’ve seen has received good ratings as well so when I have the opportunity, I’ll see it too.

I finished the book last month, and it took me a little longer to finish than I expected as I underestimated it’s length and the time I allocated to it (yes, I give myself timelines or else I don’t get through my list of books that I choose for the year). I eventually opted for an audio book to play catch up, and finished it in time to start the next novel.

Book review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak #bookreview

DISCLAIMER: This review could contain possible spoilers based on my opinions. All opinions and views are my own.


In 1939, in Nazi Germany, a young girl, named Liesel, goes to live with a foster family, as her mother cannot continue looking after her and her brother.

Narrated by Death, her story is told of her new life on Himmel street. Plagued by nightmares, she soon starts growing accustomed to her new home.

When Hans, her foster father, discovers that she can’t read or write, he starts teaching her in their home’s basement. She develops a love for it, and starts stealing books to continue her learning and love for books.

Soon, a Jew arrives on their doorstep in the middle of the night, and the family shelters him, due to a promise Hans made many years ago.

Complications arise when he falls ill, leaving the family worried about being exposed to the Nazi Party and the consequences of their deception.

As life starts taking a grave turn in Germany, Death shares Liesel’s story as her life changes, perspectives shift and how books bring on an important meaning in her life, as well as for others.

My Opinion: Positive Thoughts

I did enjoy the novel quite a bit, and it was interesting to have a compassionate Death narrate the novel as it’s told brilliantly from his perspective and how his thought patterns work. I haven’t read a book before from such a point of view so it was refreshing to get lost in something new. The book is a historical fiction, set in the time of World War 2, and it was insightful to have glimpses into the lives of Germans who were living through those times and how they experienced everything around them. The author did put thought and feeling into his writing to express the ongoing fears and terrors.

There were bold sections throughout the novel that provided extra information or facts to the story, but I found that of the information wasn’t really necessary, and later on became slightly annoying.

My Opinion: Negative Thoughts

While Liezel’s story is moving, I found it a little far-fetched that a girl of her age could perceive the thoughts and deep feelings that she did, especially knowing that she wasn’t really educated. 

I didn’t particularly like the ending. The whole book was stretched out in details, and the ending felt just a few pages long and then nothing more. The climax of the book ending missed completely because it was so short, that it like there was much missing still.

The ending was also open-ended in some ways, with some questions that didn’t receive answers.

While the book is focused on the book thief, it would’ve been nice to have known more about Max’s whereabouts after he disappeared and how he was captured, as well as more background information on Lizel’s family. I get that it created some mystery around their circumstances but I would really have liked to know more about their backstories.


It was overall a good novel to read, but I wouldn’t say it it’s as amazing as everyone has been making it out to be. That’s just my opinion, anyway. I probably won’t reread it soon again, as the length catches me and I’ve found that with longer novels I tend to lose my focus quicker and sometimes forget details from the beginning of the book.

My Rating:

The book has a rating of 4.38 on GoodReads. I gave it a 4 as it just didn’t have that ‘wow’ factor I was expecting around all the hype. Nonetheless, it’s a book I would still recommend to anyone who likes to read historical fiction.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak {Book Review} #bookreview

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  1. I’m one of those who loved this book and went on and on about it at the time – as you say, the narration really is something special. I think something this book does really well is to create intense emotional moments which are powerful just as interactions between the characters. As a book set in WWII, which reflects on the persecution of Jewish people in Nazi Germany, it perhaps could have relied upon these aspects for emotional impact – but for me, it was the small moments set against this broader background which held the emotional depth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this book a few years back after countless recommendations & whilst I probably wouldn’t add it to the list of books I’d re-read, I really did enjoy it! I remember finding the style of writing quite difficult to get into when I started, but it soon got easier. I would recommend watching the film when you get the chance 😊.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here. I read it only because so many people couldn’t stop talking about it. 🙂

      I did enjoy it, maybe not as much as others did, but it’s not a book I’ll read over and over again 🙂 I’ll definitely still watch the movie when I get a chance.

      Liked by 1 person

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