The Book Thief is a historical fiction narrated by Death. Yes, Death!!! (More on this later) The bulk of this story takes place in Germany during the Third Reich (period under Hitler’s rule) and it revolves around the life of a ten year-old girl, Liesel Meminger – said thief in the book’s title.
I’ll not be sharing my thoughts about the plot this time round because I’ve only read the book once (blame running man and Neopets). So I’ll just run through the overall feel the story gave me.
For someone obsessed about the mysteries of the afterlife, what could be better than reading a book narrated by Death? In fact, reading this book didn’t felt like reading at all. Rather, it felt as if Death was telling me a story. I thought it was really creative of Markus Zusak to use Death as the narrator. Besides, Death was the only one who could have witnessed (almost) all the happenings (and killings) during World War II, in which the story was set in. Thus, this naturally made him a better candidate to give real-time war information that’s out of Liesel’s reach.
I especially like it when Death occasionally shares some tidbits about his job and thoughts about humans. But the way he gives previews of certain chapters made understanding a tad tedious for me. You’ll have to constantly keep in mind the end results before knowing how they came to be. With information jumping all over the place, keeping details in check is a lot harder. Although Death says he spoils the story as he feels that building suspense is a chore, I personally find that his foreshadowing built even more suspense than if he had tried building some.
Because the book is based on events happening during the Third Reich, I’m really glad I took up combined history in secondary school. Ms Zaiton already imparted me with the background information about The Holocaust, so I could understand the setting fairly well.
After reading The Book Thief, I have two burning questions for Death:
1. Who is Death’s boss?
Death mentioned that he never had a vacation because there was no one else who could do his job, and that he always had to work overtime during wars. So imagine if Death took a self-declared holiday, what would happen?
2. How does he collect so many souls at a time?
For example, during WW2 (in context of The Book Thief), surely more than 100 people may die simultaneously in different countries. So how is Death able to be in so many places and carry so many souls at a time?
(Pssst! Hey Death, if you ever come across this, please do get back to me when I die okay!)
Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that The Book Thief is a book about a book about many other books (Bookception!). It is an interesting read, I promise. This book is the tenth book on the reading list. I’m making real slow progress. Sigh.
P/S: Hans Hubermann is my hero.