I tend to avoid anything that has any level of hype or gross amounts of lauding – particularly books. I still haven’t read a Harry Potter (and continue to refuse to do so). And so, I avoided The Book Thief like a bad smell. But then my mother bought it for me for Chrimbo. I read the blurb. Death narrates a story about a little, German girl’s experience in the Second World War. Already I am worried. Books from a child’s perspective are either exceptionally sanctimonious or extremely irritating. But, Death and the German experience piqued my interest. And I was glad of it. Liesel, our protagonist, is a wonderful heroine. She is mature, insightful and just the right amount of naïve. Her descriptions (for she has written them down and Death carries this account around with him) of those in her life are so matter of fact and honest; but told with a delicate, intricate talent. Zusak has written a book almost worthy of its reputation. I will not watch the film adaptation (which mother also bought me) because I have such a strong vision and idea of what Hans, Rudy, Max and the Mayor’s wife all look like, talk like and walk like. So vivid is the characterisation. Liesel (and Death) suck me into Molching, the book’s German town setting, and I feel the fear of the Nazi’s; the tragedy of the people lost to and affected by the war; and the innocence, lost potential and general distress of the children that saw it. I only wish that my heart strings had been pulled harder. So often Zusak came so close, but no cigar. There was such potential here and I almost feel as though the job was just too big, so he has settled for something lesser. At the book’s ending, reading the words and picturing the scene, I felt so much more emotion and was so much more invested in what was happening than the author was. It was very peculiar. Or is that an amazing talent? To take your reader on such a journey that their imagination becomes better than your writing?