The novel is narrated by Death and when I first saw this on the blurb, I imagined the story could be quite depressing. Yet this is not the case at all and I found that Death developed a personality as the book progressed and although it sounds awful, he was almost likeable. He cared about the main character, Liesel Meminger, a feeling he made clear was a rare occurrence, and when all her hope and love was savagely destroyed, he saved her.
The story is set in the time of the Second World War and is mainly based in Molching, on Himmel Street, where Liesel lives. She and everyone else in the area is dreadfully poor, but they make the most of whatever they have and do not take anything for granted. This poverty does not give the novel a morose air, instead it leads to Liesel's first appearance as the Book Thief.
Something I noticed as I was reading the book was that a lot of the names of people and places had significant meanings. Liesel, for example, is similar to the German word leise which can mean soft and gentle - traits which she possessed. Himmel translates as Heaven, meaning Liesel lived on Heaven Street. I really liked these little touches that gave the book even more depth.
Markus Zusak is an extremely talented writer. His use of language and the way all of the pieces of the book come together in an astonishing jigsaw is just awe-inspiring. As I was reading it, I kept thinking that the way he had worded things was so perfectly accurate. His observation of how life makes us feel as light as air and as heavy as lead all at once, and the way he expresses this, is breathtaking. He manages to capture an emotion and effortlessly make it a piece of his puzzle.
It is impossible to understand how amazing this book is without reading it. Do not let the size of it put you off (it is quite long) because you will be so glad that it was not edited down any further, for each of its words are precious gems that once you have immersed yourself into the story, you will savour forever.
I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 13. I think everyone should get the chance to read it at least once in their lives and to fully appreciate its magnitude, it's best to be slightly more mature in your view of the world. It expresses the most difficult of topics in an eye-opening, engaging way and I urge you to drop whatever you are reading now and delve into the life of the Book Thief.