“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”
I remember reading this book already a few years ago and absolutely loving it. And when I saw the trailer of the movie version, I couldn’t remember the exact details of the book, so I decided to re-read. I’m not sure exactly why, but to be honest I wasn’t as convinced as the first time I read it… True, this book is original. You won’t see any similiar writing styles every day. Still, in a way it annoyed me. Seeing the world through the eyes of Death is interesting, but I felt it sometimes interrupted the story and gave away spoilers. Also, the use of German words with direct translations didn’t seem to add a different level to the story. It just slowed down the reading pace. And lastly, was it really necessary to use that many swear words? After one too many Saukerl and Saumensch I would almost forget the real names of the characters.
Narrated by Death, this book tells the story of a young German girl Liesel and other inhabitants of the Himmel Street, Molching. It is set in 1939-1943, right in the middle of the Second World War, and through the eyes of the characters we can see the influence of and the horrors induced by The Fuhrer. Liesel is an orphan and lives with her foster parents Hans and Rosa. Everything goes normal until they decide to hide a Jew: Max. In Nazi Germany, that’s about the most dangerous thing you can do. The German girl loves books, and already during the beginning of the book becomes a book thief. Throughout the story she steals a couple more, with the help of her friend Rudy. The life in Nazi Molching becomes darker, and various characters die or are set to war. Liesel keeps reading and it is the books that save her life in the end… While others are not so lucky.
I have to admit the story itself is interesting and makes up for most of the annoyances mentioned before. It makes for a nice read if you are interested in the Second World War or enjoy reading experimental books like this one.