About the Book

Book Protagonist: Liesel Meminger
Publication Date: 2005
Genre: Historical Fiction, Teen and Young Adult


The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak

The young orphan girl Liesel Meminger lost her family due to the political crisis in Germany at that time and

The young orphan girl Liesel Meminger lost her family due to the political crisis in Germany at that time and then went to live with Hand and Rosa Hubermann. While living with her foster parents, she learns how to read and this opens up her understanding of the world. She learned the power of words and how she can affect the people around her using words.

The Book Thief Review

She started stealing so she could satisfy her thirst for knowledge  and  was later encouraged by a woman she stole from, the Mayor’s wife. She also rescued some books that were being burned by the Nazis to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. It was her reading of books in the basement of their house that helped her escape destruction along with others when their street was bombed. Every other person in their house and surrounding died in the bomb blast. 

Markus Zusak deviated a bit from his previous novels in The Book Thief. Zusak’s other books were more literary works but this one was directed to young adults. He moved away from Australia where he has set the previous novels and went to Germany during World War II for this novel. He sets it in the fictional town of Molching, which is near Munich Germany. He also uses a female as his principal character, unlike his previous works where males are the protagonist.

Yet, The Book Thief is as interesting if not more than his other novels. Anyway, this one is focused on young adults with a young teenage girl as the protagonist. It helps the reader move through her emotions as she suffers from the loss of her own family to meeting a new family. She suffers and is bullied in school because she couldn’t read and then learns of communism and the Nazis and the Jews.

Horrors of War

The novel tells the story of what happened during the holocaust and the second world war in Germany. It was a hugely ambitious story with Death as the narrator which makes it unique in that aspect. Death lets us know what happened during those dark periods in Germany and the hardships experienced by human beings. At times, death expresses sorrow as having to collect so many souls, which usually happens when there is conflict and war in any nation. This is a unique trait in literature, giving death a compassionate attribute.

Going through the novel with death as the narrator helps us understand it more as he explores the various emotions inherent in humans like love, kindness, cruelty, wickedness, and more. He tries to understand how human beings can be kind or loving to their fellow beings yet also have the capacity to be cruel and treat others inhumanly. He mentioned in the book that he has noticed that he is always overestimating and underestimating human beings but never quite getting the correct estimate. All these were in connection with the cruelty, suffering, and death he saw in Germany during that period.

Man’s Mortality

Even though some people might say that the book is difficult and sad and so may not be appropriate for children especially teens. But the protagonist is a teenager that grew along with the story and so other teenagers will identify with her and her emotions. Again, having death as the narrator brings to life all the feelings and sufferings that humans go through.

Again, death discusses how people are dying and what happens when he is collecting their souls helps to move young adults and indeed everyone from the level of reality to a deeper level of understanding. Death as the narrator frequently interrupts himself to give us a foreshadowing of what is going to happen and who will die soon. He also talks about what happens when someone dies and how he collects their soul. He helps us to appreciate our frailty and mortality as human beings, as death says, our life is a line with a beginning and an end.

Family Life

This is a novel that parents will appreciate and they can read with their children. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from anyone in the family. At the beginning of the novel, Liesel’s mother and brother are on a train to Himmel. At a point, the brother died and according to the story, it was due to a combination of malnutrition, sickness, and poverty. This lets us know that the mother is a destitute woman who cannot adequately feed or take care of her kids.

This was the reason why she was sending them to a foster family where she believed they would be better-taken care of. After settling in with her foster family and making many friends there, the cruel fate that was depicted in the novel still catches on with her, and her street was bombed and all her family and friends died. She only escaped because she was in the basement of the house, reading her books.


The story is well-written and using death as the narrator takes always the horrors of dying as he mentions that the souls he takes are healed and well-taken care of. This helps the reader to understand what happens after someone dies. Although having lots of death in the story can be depressing but then that is what obtains during war and conflicts.

The Book Thief is a story that shows heroism, love, sacrifice, friendship, kindness, courage, in the face of difficulties. This is a great novel that both adults and children will love to read even though it is graded as a young-adult novel. It is an exciting book that will keep you all night thinking about the themes and the messages that the author is passing across in the book. This is a life-changing book because it gives us a believable hope, the kind we see in Liesel.


Was The Book Thief?

The Book Thief was not banned but at a time it was challenged. The reason is that the book depicts many features about the life of Nazis, the German people, and Jews during the periods that the second world war was fought. Again, the novel told the story of horror, suffering, cruelty as experienced by the Jews in particular and by other people affected by war. 

Is death in The Book Thief male or female?

In The Book Thief, the narrator Death’s gender was not revealed. But in different reviews on the internet, death is given to the male gender. Therefore, whenever the story is written about, death is referred to words like he, him, his. Since death is not a living being, it is genderless.

Who should read The Book Thief?

The Book Thief is an exciting, adventurous book that is recommended for everyone. As long as you can read and understand, at least anyone from the age of 13 can read and enjoy the book. It is a serious story with many meaningful messages in it, and so younger kids may need adults to explain things to them.

What is the main message of The Book Thief?

The major message that you can take away from The Book Thief is that even if you pass through harsh obstacles, you shouldn’t give up on life. All you should do is to calm down and try to deal with things in the right, peaceful way, and don’t lose hope no matter what.

Is The Book Thief an appropriate book?

The Book Thief is a great, interesting book that anyone should read. It is appropriate for people of all gender and ages. However, if your child is under 13, you need to read it with them so that you can explain certain things to them. This is because there are themes of sadness, grief, cruelty, and a bit of violence.    

The Book Thief: Markus Zusak’s Best-Loved Novel
  • Story
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Writing Style
  • Dialogue
  • Conclusion
  • Lasting Effect on Reader

The Book Thief Book Review

The Book Thief is an interesting book that you will remember for years to come. This novel is the compilation of what happened in Germany during World War II as heard from the stories that Zusak’s parents told him when he was little. With death as the narrator, it helps you see life, suffering and mortality in a different way. From the opening lines, it grips the reader and you keep reading until you get to the end. It is a powerful portrayal of life under the Nazi regime and how much suffering the Jews went through.

The Book Thief is Markus Zusak’s best-loved novel, read by millions of people all over the world. It has won best seller status in many countries as well as countless awards. It is enjoyed by young adults around the world and is being used in schools worldwide. This important account of the Holocaust and second world war as seen through the eyes of a young teenage girl shows the suffering that occurs when one loses their loved ones. 



  • Clear and concise language
  • Interesting and adventurous storyline
  • Death as the narrator is unconventional and unique
  • Realistic characters


  • Some spoiler effect due to a lot of foreshadowing in the story, when death tells the readers what was going to happen.
  • Slow moving storyline

Ugo Juliet
About Ugo Juliet
Ugo Juliet is a passionate lover of books. For over 10 years, she has written books and articles for various organizations. She continues with her passion for literature as an expert analyst on Book Analysis.
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