Review – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


Today I’m going to review Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief for you.

You’ll notice a different structure on this and some of my upcoming reviews as I’m practicing for an exam that includes writing reviews and I’ll just stick to the structure that is expected at university. If you like it better than my usual review structure, you can tell me that. If you like the other structure better, you can also tell me. I’m planning on switching back after the exam, but if you are all in favor of this new structure, I can also stick to it.

The Book Thief
Image provided by Transworld¹

The Book Thief is a 2005 novel by Australian writer Markus Zusak. The edition I own is a paperback edition published in 2007 by Black Swan, a division of Transworld Publishers.

The Book Thief is about nine-year-old Liesel Meminger who is sent to live with the Hubermanns, a foster family living in a fictional town called Molching. She soon warms up to her foster-father Hans and her new best friend Rudy. Her foster-mother Rosa takes some getting used to. Liesel settles in, learns to read and takes up stealing books. One day, a young man enters the Hubermanns’ kitchen. His name is Max and he is a Jew hiding from the Nazis.

Zusak’s visual description of the setting and his vivid writing style make you believe you were a character in his novel. Walking the town of Molching with its little stores and shabby houses feels very real. Just like Liesel holding a burning book to her chest. Markus Zusak knows how to show the reader what he imagines.

The Book Thief features mainly well-crafted characters. Liesel is depicted realistically, as she turns from the shy and hesitant young girl to a brave rascal with a big heart. Like every child, she doesn’t always think about the consequences of her actions. I enjoyed the well-rounded characterization of Liesel’s loving foster-father Hans and I wish Rosa would have gotten similar treatment. As Rosa is a very reserved person, it could also be that Markus Zusak didn’t want us to know too much about Rosa. She should be as much a mystery to us as she is to Liesel. The Book Thief is narrated by Death and Markus Zusak couldn’t have chosen a better narrator. Death has a good sense of humor and keeps you glued to the pages.

So what is the overall reading experience? While The Book Thief instantly sucks you in, it slows down in the middle mainly because day-to-day events are recounted and nothing happens that stays in your mind. I couldn’t find a real climax throughout the book. Not even the scene near the end has that much impact. The ending itself, however, is satisfying. What I particularly liked was that the book features many Bavarian words and expressions which worked very well and added to the sarcastic tone the narrator created. As a person living near Bavaria, I can tell you that Markus Zusak did his research. What did not work were the printed illustrated pages of a book within this edition of the novel. They were very hard to read and quickly became annoying. The Book Thief is a solid novel that is suitable for very young readers as it leaves out many of the horrors of the time. For adults and young adults who know that millions of people died a cruel death during the Nazi regime, the book might turn out be a bit too soft.



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Review – Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin


This is a book review, BUT I’m pretty exited about today’s release of the movie Winter’s Tale! If you haven’t heard about it, here’s the trailer:

When I first saw the trailer, I remembered the book the movie is based on, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. I had come across it a few months before, but I decided not to read it because the reviews were sharply divided. For me it looked like one half was raving about the book being brilliant, while the other half was complaining about it being boring. I was intrigued by the synopsis but I didn’t want to risk reading a 700-page book that would bore me. But then came the trailer and I was fascinated. I mean, they wouldn’t make a movie out of a boring novel, right? There had to be something about the book that made it worth reading. So I read it. And here comes a review that was very hard to write.


New York City is eagerly awaiting the 20th century when a burglar is saved by a white horse. This incident will change his life forever. About a hundred years later a young, formerly very rich, man makes his way east across the country to find out more about the mysterious golden salver his father left him. He intends to board a ship to Europe, but something seems to hold him in New York City. The city has changed with the years, but some things are still the same. Things like the cloud wall.

My Thoughts:

Winter’s Tale is a very complex novel. It’s main focus lies on New York City, but not the New York City we know. Not even New York City as it was around 1900, which is the time the first part of the novel is set in. Mark Helprin created his own version of this famous North American city we all know. If it doesn’t feel weird for you in Part I of the book, wait until you reach Part II. I was really confused! I had no idea what time I was in. Was that still the past (because the language and other details suggested that)? No it wasn’t, but where was I? If you try to find that out with the help of clues you usually pick up on the way, you’re lost. Well I was. I just started to accept it. This world is different even though it shares lots of similarities with ours.

Peter Lake for example. He looks human. He is human. If he would have had a better past, he might have become a normal, working-class citizen of New York. Things turned out a little different though and he starts to do things you can’t comprehend. You could call Peter Lake a main character, but I could be biased by the movie trailer. I’ve thought about it. There are so many characters in this novel. Every one of them is introduced in more than just two pages. At some point it got quite confusing to remember who was who. Many of these characters (e.g. Hardesty & Virginia) are very important and take up large parts of the novel. I can’t say if there really is a main character. What do you think?

As you can see, Winter’s Tale is a rather confusing adventure, but there is one thing that makes it worthwhile: the language! Okay, two. There’s also Athansor, the flying horse. If I had the time, and I hope I’ll have it someday, I would sit down and just read passages of the book for sheer pleasure. Mark Helprin can turn words into magic. Though I have to be honest with you. I did not fully understand Winter’s Tale, but as I’ve seen on the internet, there are many who didn’t, even after rereading it for the xth time. Do I think you should read it? Yes, if you have time on your hands. If you are terribly busy right now, read something light and get back to Winter’s Tale when you feel relaxed.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

I’m wondering how they made such a complex book into a movie. I’m looking forward to Akiva Goldsman’s interpretation!

Trailer – Saving Mr. Banks

I’ve just encountered this wonderful trailer of Saving Mr. Banks and I want to share with you. It really looks magical.

Did you see? They even go to Disneyland 🙂 I love Disneyland! We’ve been there last September and I haven’t stopped missing it since then.

I checked the release dates for Saving Mr. Banks on IMDB. It is released between December 2013 and February 2014 depending on where you live. Just click the link.

For me, this movie is a “must see”, what about you?

Movie – The Great Gatsby

Have you read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby? I’ve read it a few years ago and I really enjoyed it. It is a smooth read and I would really recommend it to those who are scared of reading classics because they think that classics are long and boring. The Great Gatsby is anything but long and boring 🙂

But now on to the movie.

When I first saw this trailer, I was excited. This excitement turned into horror, when I found out that the music in the movie would be modern music instead of 20s music. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I have to say that the music was okay. It wasn’t as disturbing as I’d expected it to be and it was quite pleasant sometimes. There was something else that bothered me: The computer animation.

At some points in the film, the computer animation becomes obvious. Waaaay too obvious. I haven’t seen the movie in 3D, so I have no idea if it’s the same for people who have seen it in 3D. But the water for example, or the star-filled sky, they were really ugly to look at. This wouldn’t be a problem, if the whole movie was a computer animated Disney movie but it wasn’t. I don’t know why the movie’s creator did this.

Other than that, I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby. Great costumes (!!), beautiful houses and, of course, the actors 🙂 Tobey Maguire did a wonderful job. Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton and Carey Mulligan were also very good. And Mr. DiCaprio is a great Gatsby. Don’t you think?


Movie – EPIC

Last week, I went to see EPIC and I really liked it (although I’m not a huge fan of the computer animated three-dimensional look most computer animated movies have nowadays [and by the way, I hate 3D!]).

EPIC was a lot of fun to watch and I loved the magical cinematography. Mub & Grub are my personal favorites. Here’s the trailer (I decided to post the one that’s not that funny, because it doesn’t have that many spoilers in it):


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Today, I’d like to share with you my favourite short film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore You don’t have to understand English to watch it because it works with a language we all understand: pictures & sound

This 2011 short film was directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg and received an Academy Award in the category Best Animated Short Film.

Movies: “Identity Thief” – “I Give It a Year”

Last week, I saw two comedies I’d live to talk about today.

Identity Thief

Here’s the trailer:

I was really looking forward to this movie because I like Melissa McCarthy, but somehow this trailer suggests less action than there actually is. There are people shooting at each other…



I Give It a Year

I saw I Give It a Year at the sneak preview and I was positively surprised. This is an awesome comedy that isn’t your usual Hollywood romantic comedy. I laughed a lot!