This book, set in Nazi Germany, follows the story of a young girl named Liesel. Liesel lives with a foster family and begins stealing books, which is where the title comes from. She steals books from a Book Burning, a graveyard, and even the mayors house. Death, the narrator, follows the life of Liesel in her new foster home. A little ways through the book a Jew by the name of Max shows up on their doorstep and we see the relationship between Max and Liesel bud. Then the air raids begin.
Quality Rating: 5 Books
This is a fantastic book with a unique narrator. The format is also unique but it worked for this book. I would give it 5 stars because it is just that good! This might just be my new favorite book. If you don't like books with sad endings this may not be for you but you will be missing out on a fantastic book.
Content Rating: 4 Books
Overall Zusak kept the book pretty clean. Minus some language he didn't go too in depth to the horrors of bombings or what the Nazi's did to the Jews. There are several scenes where Death talks about taking the souls up in his hands and plenty of talk about the dead (what do you expect the narrator is Death). I would give this book 4 stars out of five for cleanliness.
Age Scale (note: This is my view on the age scale but I also checked other sites to make sure I wasn't way off.)
0-9: High Caution. The content is (in my humble opinion) too weighty and mature for such a young age.
10-12: Medium Caution. Again there is some mature content and the language could be an issue to some people.
13+: You are good to go. I think this book has some great aspects and it is beautifully written.
From what I know of history there are many elements in this story that are true. For example the German's did have huge book burnings and there were Hitler Youth groups. Friendship is a huge theme in The Book Thief and racism is, in many ways, looked down upon by the main character and the narrator. Another theme is strength through trials and Zusak illustrates that life can go on even when horrible things happen.
Language: 3 Books
There is a fair bit of language in this book. Most of the time it is in German but you do know what it means and it doesn't change the fact that they are cursing. Another phrase they say is "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph". To be honest I am not really sure if it is a bad thing. Sometimes it is used when a character is surprised and other times it is implied that this phrase is a curse. There are a few other instances of cursing but the two above are the most prevalent.
Romance: 5 Books
There are a couple times where Rudy asks for a kiss and eventually Liesel does give him a kiss. But it is a very sweet kiss and rather sad.
Violence: 4 Books
As this book is set during WWII there is a certain amount of violence but it isn't graphic (doesn't really go into a detailed description of the effects of the bomb). Most of the violence and cruelty that happened in during the war is simply implied. Death does talk about carrying the souls of the broken bodies away in is arms.
Alcohol/Smoking: 4 Books
Children and Adults smoke and there is a scene where Liesel tastes champagne but no one gets drunk or anything. Just FYI the thought of champagne makes me want to cry...
Beliefs (I am not sure how to rate beliefs because your rating may change depending on what religion you have. I will try to stay impartial and just present the facts presented in the book)
At one point Death acknowledges the fact that God exists however he says that God is silent and that he doesn't answer even his prayers. As state earlier the phrase "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" is used frequently.