The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This was another book club read, but one I’d suggested after I was intrigued by the title and heard numerous recommendations.

It’s about a young girl, the Book Thief of the title, who is living with foster parents in Germany during WWII. It’s pretty much about her life and it’s various dramas – some relatively small but important to her, and some huge. Oh, and it’s narrated by Death.

I thought I was going to be disappointed at first. The flow of the narrative kept being interrupted by little snippets in bold type that either expanded on a point, gave some extra information or told you what was coming up, and that was quite difficult to get used to. It kind of creeps up on you though and after a while I realised I was completely hooked and genuinely worried about what was coming up which, in a war, isn’t usually good.

Death tells you quite early on that he doesn’t believe in building mystery, so each part begins with a list of what’s coming up. This actually works well to build tension because, as much as the unknown is scary, sometimes knowing what’s coming can be terrifying too. The ending is bittersweet – as you’d expect it doesn’t end happily for everyone, and it would have spoiled the book if it did, but it’s satisfying enough. I cried (fortunately I wasn’t reading it in public when I finished it!).

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