Bookish Stuff: The Book Thief

8:38 AM

And here you have it, a bookish post! It's a book review today, and you can see the review with spoilers on Goodreads here, along with my other reviews.

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, this is a three star book. That's what I originally gave it, and would stick with if I hadn't come to the conclusion that Max and Hans Hubermann deserved a whole star to themselves for being absolutely stunning and the only characters I cared about in the whole 550 page book.

I didn't cry.

From what I've seen, I should have. I'm a fan of heart-wrenching books; I enjoy crying over books, actually. I like books that appeal to my feelings, and I was excited for The Book Thief, because I expected one of those books.

It's not the fault of the book, really. It wasn't my kind of book in many ways, as I quickly gathered. I didn't dislike the book, but I didn't like it, either. I don't have feelings about it in any way, really, which makes me feel kind of sad, because so many other people loved it. I'm wondering if I missed some deep intellectual thing that everyone else got.

What I disliked

1. DEATH IS COOL, GUYS. DEATH IS ALL POWERFUL. DEATH COLLECTS SOULS. DEATH IS SMART. DEATH IS OMNISCIENT. DEATH LIKES TO REMIND US OF ALL THESE FACTS. I'm not sure why the author chose Death as the narrator other than 'this might be cool!' because I didn't really see the point, or how it added anything to the story. Add this to the fact that Death was pretentious and liked to continually remind us of how all-knowing and smart he was, and I was very done with this very quickly. I won't bash the people who thought it was cool; it just wasn't for me.

2. Being told spoilers before they happened.
Hinting about bad things WAY before the bad things actually happen doesn't leave me in dread. It just leaves me annoyed, and caring a lot less when the thing really does happen.

3. The ending. 

4. Liesel. I never got a sense of who Liesel was, which was disappointing for me. Quite honestly? I didn't care a bit about Liesel. I didn't cry, either, not once, so maybe I AM just a heartless person. But if anything, she annoyed me a little, when she was allowed to have somewhat of a personality other than being the angelic book thief child. (how many books did Liesel actually steal? Three or four?)

5. The plot. Or rather, the lack of one. It was more a collection of short stories, wandering around for 500+ pages until some kind of ending was needed. I didn't want to read 500+ pages about Liesel and Rudy and depressing Nazi Germany. I wanted to read a book about The Book Thief, which I rarely got.

6. The style. Don't get me wrong, the writing was gorgeous. Leave out Death as the narrator and that would have been some 5-star writing right there. Except for, you know, the random bolded weirdly formatted 'facts' inserted every few paragraphs, apparently with the intention of pulling you out of the story and being distracting. Not my kind of thing either.

What I liked

1. The basic idea. Something set in Nazi Germany was cool, definitely. Interesting. Unlike anything I'd ever read before. It gets props for that.

2. Hans Hubermann. Oh, goodness, Hans Hubermann. I liked him from the start, when he walked living and breathing onto the page, which is fortunate because I didn't like most of the others. I loved him and his quiet attitude and how kind he was to everyone and his quiet but strong determination to stand up for what's right. I loved him for defending Max and even Liesel when it came to it. I loved him for the flashbacks and parts in the war, where he proved how quietly brave he was as well. I would have vastly preferred this book were it from his POV, I think. A novella or something with Hans Hubermann and his war experiences, in his quiet, unique sort of POV? Hand it over. I'd spend a lot of money to get it.

3. Max. MAX. I don't know what to say about Max. I adored Max more than anyone else in the entire book. Max was what made the book for me. He was alive in the special way book characters are capable of, and left me frustrated, because I so badly wanted the book from his POV. I would have cried over that version, the version where he doesn't come in and leave just as abruptly but makes the long, hard transition from Jewish street fighter to wrecked fugitive living in a basement with the stars setting his eyes on fire to a broken man surviving a concentration camp. I need that version of this book. I need it SO BADLY.

I'm really not sure what else to say about it. I wanted to like it more than I did. Will I see the movie? Maybe, probably. Will I read this book again? Also maybe and probably. I don't think I wasted time reading it, but I wish I'd been prepared for the entire thing, too. But I felt like it deserved a good long book review because it did make me think.

I'm going to end this review with my absolute favorite quote, featuring my two favorite characters, because why not?

View all my reviews

What about you? What were your opinions on The Book Thief? Do you violently disagree with me? Why, or why not? Comment away.


  1. I really loved this book, but I agree with you in that the plot was a little wandering, which caused me to take a while getting into the book. Also, I did feel kind of detached from some of the main characters. However, what I really enjoyed was the unique writing style. I love lyrical, metaphorical books, so in the end, I ended up loving The Book Thief.

    1. I can see how other people would like it! It was mostly a matter of taste, for me. :) You make excellent points, and I can't deny that the writing was amazing. It just wasn't for me.

  2. I agree with you quite a bit—I was actually kind of disappointed because I have heard such good things about the book and then when I actually got to it it was kind of mediocre. I read it to say I've read it, and you're right, it was about three stars, but we're pretty much in alignment about everything. Hans was what carried me through, and an occasional snarky comment. After that? Mm.

    1. *fistbumps* Those were my feelings exactly. (And there were some great snarky comments.)

  3. Hey, Aimee, this is Emily. I know I haven't really talked to you or anything in a long time, but I really love your blog! I just wanted to say I completely relate to your review. Plus, I was wondering if you'd ever heard of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein? It was a book I liked that was also set in Nazi Germany.

    1. Oh my gosh, we really /haven't/ talked in forever o.0 But thanks so much! <3 I actually have heard of it, and it's on my list of books to read right now because it looks super cool.


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