In the year or two after this novel was first published, I changed my mind about whether I wanted to read it about a dozen times. The book was right there on the shelf in my local bookstore, with a big green "Staff Pick" sticker on the front. I'd pick it up, walk around the store with it for a while, and then put it down again, unpurchased. I'm not really sure what put me off. The idea of Death as a narrator? Not wanting to read another sad Holocaust-related story? In any event, I eventually decided not to read the novel at all. Until last year, that is, when I downloaded it onto the Kindle.
There really was no good reason not to read this book. Zusak writes lovely, evocative prose: simple and poetic. Having Death narrate the novel was an inspired decision. In this novel, omniscient, omnipresent Death - who is "haunted by humans" is weary, cynical, humourous and deeply caring: a welcome presence, not frightening at all. The other characters are just as beautifully drawn. Although the themes of the novel - love, friendship, war, death, the love of reading and the power of words - are not original, the way in which they are conveyed is memorable. I will always remember Liesel, Rudy, Hans, Rosa and Max. Their story moved me to tears. No, not just tears - by the end of the book I was sobbing.
I read this with my dear friend Jemidar which was, as always, a great experience. In her review, Jemidar wrote that she wanted to hug the book and never let it go. I totally agree. This may not be a novel for everyone, but it’s certainly one for me. Any book that moves me as much as this one did has to be given five stars.