DNF Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

DNF Review: The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published: March 14th 2006
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 552
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon | Buy from Publisher

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

FTC Disclaimer: I purchased this book myself. I was in no way compensated for this review.

So I DNFed The Book Thief, you guys. But wait, hear me out.

I thought the story was compelling. Some of the writing was achingly beautiful. Many of the scenes were heartbreaking. But I just couldn’t handle that stupid narrator, you guys. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Death as a narrator is a cool idea, but I feel like Markus Zusak got this idea of having Death be the narrator, and decided to add it to this story about the holocaust. And when he realized that Death didn’t really have many scenes in the story, he started adding him into places where he didn’t need to be. Because what did Death the narrator do during most of this book? HE SPOILED US FOR THE VERY STORY WE WERE READING.

Death was not a good narrator, guys. He was always telling us what was going to happen before it happened. SEVERAL TIMES. At times he was actually telling us to pay attention to certain parts, because something big was going to happen. And other times he literally told us what was going to happen, several times, before it happened. I am a self-diagnosed spoilerphobe and I cannot handle a book that tells me what is going to happen before it happens. I love foreshadowing, and I can understand occasionally telling something before it happens, but this was ALL THE TIME.

A bit of a spoiler (I hate to do it, but I kind of have to…):

The narrator tells us at one point about a character going into a river. And then he tells us that that character dies. But then he’s like, “No, he didn’t die from that time going into the river, even though I know you’re thinking that. He died years later.” (I’m paraphrasing here but that’s basically what the narrator said.) I wanted to throw the book and yell, “We thought that the character dies at that time because that’s the way you phrased it! You put it in our heads and then you tell us we’re silly for thinking that’s how he died! And why the hell are you telling us that this character died years before he actually dies?!” I’m telling you, you guys, I wanted to throw this book so many times.

I just couldn’t do it anymore.

At one point I started keeping a tally of how many times we were told about something happening before it happened. I counted at least 11 times before I decided to stop reading at 242 pages (around 44%). Usually I DNF around 25% or around 100 pages, whichever one comes last. But I was reading The Book Thief for my book club, plus I knew how many people love this book, and I wanted to love it, too.

I marked it as “DNF For Now” on Goodreads, meaning that I might try to finish it in the future, but honestly, I can’t see myself ever wanting to do that. Which is a shame, because there really were some great parts of this book. I am, however, planning on watching the movie adaptation, because I think maybe Death won’t be such a jerk and spoil us as much in the movie. But I am sad that I didn’t love The Book Thief. Oh well, you can’t love them all.



  1. Chrystal

    September 22, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Darn. That’s too bad. I have the book to read and the DVD to watch at some point. I’m thinking I might just skip to the movie then. Maybe after you watch the movie, you can come back and add to this post to update us on whether it was worth watching and if you liked it more than the book?!?

    1. Andrea

      September 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Good idea! I’ll have to watch it soon and do an update. I’ll let you know when I do!

  2. Briana @ Pages Unbound

    September 22, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Sorry you didn’t like it! I really love this book and kind of have the urge to recommend it to all people. Death doesn’t really bother me as a narrator, but then I’m in the camp of belief that if a book is really good, it’s still really good if you know what’s going to happen. That’s the only way a book is rereadable. And Shakespeare and other cool classic people get away with it. I think Death pulls it off. But I know you really hate spoilers, so I can see how this would drive you nuts.

  3. Geraldine @ Corralling Books

    September 25, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Mm, yeah I think I felt the same! I didn’t DNF it, I stuck through it, but it did take quite a lot of effort. I can see why people like the book, with how well Zusak writes, and how Death is an interesting perspective to see the story from – but it just didn’t work for me. I’m sorry it didn’t work for you either! <3
    Geraldine @ Corralling Books

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