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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2006 Markus Zusak; (P)2006 Random House Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award, Children's Literature, 2007

"The astonishing characters, drawn without sentimentality, will grab readers." (Booklist)
"Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers....An extraordinary narrative." (School Library Journal)
"The Book Thief will appeal both to sophisticated teens and adults with its engaging characters and heartbreaking story." (Bookmarks Magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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    12,122
  • 4 Stars
    3,762
  • 3 Stars
    1,243
  • 2 Stars
    330
  • 1 Stars
    303

Performance

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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    11,375
  • 4 Stars
    2,562
  • 3 Stars
    683
  • 2 Stars
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Story

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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    10,576
  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
    1,032
  • 2 Stars
    279
  • 1 Stars
    233
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  • Robert
  • Yamhill, OR, United States
  • 08-20-11

Glad I took a chance.

I had my doubts about reading this book. I have a hard time with books about WWII Germany. I knew this would probably be a heartbreaker too but for some reason I decided to take it on. Maybe because the book was about books, and I usually like that genre; maybe because the reviews were so good; certainly not because I read it was appropriate for "sophisticated teens and adults." For whatever reason, I am glad I selected The Book Thief. It was incredibly well-written. The characters completely came to life. While there certainly was heart-brake, the heart-warming more than made up for it. This is a book for all ages. The narrator was outstanding and all and all, it was a book I will not soon forget.

200 of 210 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Word Thief

I don’t know if I can compose something that accurately conveys my thoughts about this novel. I don't think there are accurate words.

Ultimately I thought this book was an emotional experience. I was moved at different points to tears---and yet I was comforted. And I saw life and more importantly death a little bit differently when the book was done.

Allan Corduner’s performance was nothing short of impressive---and I can not imagine experiencing this book without his voice. I think he elevated an already superb story…

This is nothing short of brilliant!

140 of 149 people found this review helpful

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  • Tabitha
  • WV, United States
  • 07-21-12

Wow! Just Wow!

Any additional comments?

Honestly, I didn't want to read this book. Nazi Germany has never been a subject of great interest to me. However, It had been sitting around in my Audible app for about 6 months, and I'd listened to all of my other audiobooks, so I figured now was as good of a time as any to give it a shot. <br/><br/>Let me just say that The Book Thief broke my heart. It really did. The writing was beautiful and brilliant. Not long after starting it, I found myself absorbed by the story. I couldn't stop thinking about Liesel Meminger. I think the moment I knew I was going to love this book was when she described her new papa's eyes. Their relationship was by far my favorite aspect of the book. <br/><br/>The author actually gives the ending away before he describes the events leading up to it. At first, I thought that this was going to bother me, but It's just made the book more powerful. This book made me FEEL so much. I felt it when Liesel was scared, ecstatically happy, unbelievably sad, blazingly angry, and I felt it when she loved fiercely. It was definitely her love that broke my heart. I cried for the last 20 minutes of the audiobook. I'd fought tears a few times throughout the book, but there was no stopping them by the end. This was such a touching book that I would definitely recommend. (Also, I'm glad I listened to this book rather than read it because I wouldn't have known how to pronounce many of the words.)

133 of 142 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Will steal you!

Brilliant. Compelling. Categorized as "Young Adult" but perhaps more because the female protagonist is a child, this story will break your heart on one page and on the next give you comfort. You can't help but care about the characters.

The narrator, Allan Corduner, is truly amazing as he brings life to Death, the book's narrator. I took great pleasure in how his voice messaged the words and images. I've read reviews from those who read the written words and they all complain that it was slow getting into the story, but not true with Allan Corduner giving voice to Death.

76 of 82 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Allan Corduner

I am not reviewing the book. If you want to know about that, read the reviews on Amazon, or Goodreads. I am writing about Allan Corduner. This was like listening to a Broadway play; amazing. Allan Corduner brought to life this poignant story. I could never have felt such joy and pain having read this myself. Oh, my heart still breaks when Liesel says "Papa!"

135 of 147 people found this review helpful

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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 04-01-12

"I am haunted by humans"

Any additional comments?

The final words of the book, spoken by Death who has been the storyteller, sums up my feelings about this reading experience. The story is so much about the power of words, and the author uses his words so eloquently, visually descriptive in their ability to evoke sensory understanding of the characters' experiences. But beyond the words, the true story is about the souls of the characters - both good and bad. The very best is of course Hans, the father whose kindness, generosity and deep understanding of what is right becomes the guiding star to the devestated orphan who comes to his home. Liesel's life is saved and formed through his influence and she becomes extraordinary as a result. Rosa, Rudy and the others living in this wartorn village become our literary neighbors. I will be haunted by these humans for some time to come.<br/><br/>A comment - other reviewers have stated their inability to get into the story. It took 3 tries for me to get past the beginning also. The prologue is confusing and the writing style unique, requiring some patience and concentration. Please don't give up. By the first hour when the Storyteller begins the real narrative, you will understand and begin a transforming journey. The narrator is superb, bringing all of these characters to life.

76 of 84 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Book Thief

I have been listening to Audiobooks for approximately 4 years, and this is only the second time that I have felt compelled to write a review. I don't think that I have ever been so touched by a story, nor will I ever forget this book or it's characters. The tale is heartbreaking, but at the same time hopeful for the human spirit, as "Death" (the storyteller) can attest to throughout the telling of the story of Liesel, the main character. She is but one of many (thousands, acutually) that, together, make this a story that will leave an imprint on your heart. I know it will stay with me forever. Don't pass this one up!

85 of 95 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A must read

The Book Thief is a beautifully narrated and superbly told novel. It is impossible not to be drawn into the story and feel like you are living on the streets of Munich during World War II. My only complaint is that this book is listed in the Audible Kids category, where I believe it truly does not belong. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, the main characters are children, but the subject is mature. Few children under high school age will appreciate this book.

40 of 45 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • 11-25-13

Hard Times

This book didn’t quite live up to its billing, but was a very good listen nevertheless. I always struggle to know where to look for fiction, and I chose one this on the back of its being a best seller.

The character who narrates this book is death. He tells the story of a young girl orphaned by the political turmoil in Nazi Germany, who is then fostered by a Munich housepainter and his wife. They are simple, unsophisticated working class folk who swear at each other constantly, but underneath this rough exterior is a deep well of love and courage, the courage to risk their lives by sheltering a Jewish man in their basement.

So why is it called the book thief? The heroine, Lisa (forgive the spelling, I didn’t see the written name), begins by being illiterate and gradually develops into an avid reader. But books are scarce in this time of immense upheaval, poverty and strife. Not just scarce but also dangerous to own, and she rescues them from the burning bonfires of books lit by the Nazis in their rampant, frenzied campaign to enforce their ideology onto their people.

It’s a sad and moving story of a young girl trying to grow up in this bizarre and dangerous environment. Germany is locked into a war against the rest of the World, a war which they are starting to lose. All men, young and old, are susceptible to conscription to fight in Russia, the remaining civilians face the threat of increasingly frequent Allied bombing raids, and Jews are being transported to concentration camps. Against this background Lisa somehow enjoys some of the ordinary experiences of childhood and early adolescence, but you know all along that this small community, like the rest of Germany, is doomed and that there will be few survivors.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Angie
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 01-06-07

Amazing

I can't say enough good things about this book. It was one of the best books I have ever read/listened to. So true and so sad and heart warming, bitter sweet. It will break your heart, I promise.I made the mistake of listening to the end at a restaurant while eating lunch one day at work and cried my eyes out in public over my philly cheese steak. It is about love and hope and family and friendship and loss and the power of words and books. It is beautiful and everyone should listen to it.

The narrator is positively brillant as well. He does the German accents and the characters of both male and female young and old superbly. I can't wait to hear more from him.

Listen to it, really.

53 of 61 people found this review helpful