The Book Thief
– Markus Zusak.
Markus Zusak has a way with words, and it shines in The Book Thief. At once hopeful and devastating, it’s an observation of humanity from an outsider who sees it all; Death himself narrates the story about a little girl named Liesel growing up with her foster parents in Nazi Germany.
In the beginning, I felt somewhat intimidated by the idea of Death as a narrator. I assumed that his voice would be dark but for the most part, he was a ray of light illuminating earth’s saddest time. Incredible observations and occasional dry humour are only some of the things no one but Death could have brought into this story. All the while, you know what’s going to happen. Death has no patience for mysteries. However, in anticipation of the inevitable makes it even worse.
The narration puts an odd perspective on the story. Much of what Death says is very philosophical, and even beautiful. Death mocks Adolf Hitler by saying,
“There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life:
1. He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else.
2. He would make himself a small, strange moustache.
3. He would one day rule the world.
…Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words. ”
BUT there is a disclaimer: If you want a fast read, this book is not for you. If you only like happy endings this book is not for you. If you don’t like experimental fiction, this book is not for you.
The Book Thief is not one of those books you read compulsively, desperate to find out what’s on the next page. No. It is, in fact, better to read it slowly, in small doses, in a way that allows you to savour every word and absorb the power and the magic it contains.