The Book Thief - Markus Zusak Oh, Book Thief …I first picked up this book when I was 15 years old, after I'd been hearing such glowing reviews of it here on Goodreads. I knew next to nothing about it, besides that everyone seemed to love it so much; I recall seeing a conversation where a bunch of people agreed it was the best Young Adult book ever written. And then I pick it up from the library and it has some review on the front from the New York Times or something claiming this book is "LIFE-CHANGING" or something like that. So I'm like, "… Damn. Is it really that good?"That first time I read it, it took me only about two or three days. I devoured it, unable to put it down. And when I came to the ending, all I could do was sit there for like half an hour staring at a wall, because I just felt totally numb afterward. I felt utterly shell-shocked. It was just like:I had never read anything quite like it. It amazed me.Unfortunately, at the time I was really crappy at writing reviews, and all I wrote was like, "OMG THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT. IT'S JUST SO GOOOOD. LIKE TOTALLY."And well, I still agree with that statement. But now, I'm going to attempt to say it in a more thought-out and coherent manner. It had been about five years since I read the book for the first time, and I figured it would be a good idea to read it again. I still remembered it all pretty clearly, and I still considered it one of my all-time favorite books even though I'd only read it once. But I still really wanted to experience reading it again.I'm very glad I got around to reading it a second time. This time, I read it much more slowly––and even though I definitely appreciated it the first time, I think I appreciated it even more the second time. First of all, the writing in this book is just beautiful. I … just … Markus Zusak. I can't even. “People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”How … HOW. TEACH ME YOUR WAYS. UGH MARKUS ZUSAK.MARKUS.ZUSAK.Hahahaha look upon my beautiful face as I read from this book that will destroy your soul!Fun fact: if you search for images of Markus Zusak, one of the searches Google suggests is "Markus Zusak shirtless" (also "Markus Zusak muscles"). There aren't really any results for either one. Not that I checked.So yeah, the point is that I love Markus Zusak so much that I hate his guts. And it doesn't help that he's also so attractive. Damn it.Okay, okay. The jokes aside … I love the way this book is written. The choice to have it narrated by Death is quite an interesting one. The first time I read the book, it was a bit confusing to me at first, and it's the type of choice that could have become very gimmicky. Zusak made quite a risky decision there, but ultimately I think it was a great decision. Death's narration somehow manages to be not too overpowering; after all, most of the story is focused on Liesel. But it also is an important factor of the narration that doesn't get forgotten. And then there are the characters … THE CHARACTERS.Can I just get them all together and hug them all?Damn it, I'd even hug Death. I'd hug the shit out of them all.Liesel is such a wonderful and relatable main character. She's by no means a perfect person, which makes her seem like a real young girl. Her love of words is just so tangible and powerful. I think a lot of avid readers can see themselves in her––a girl who would do anything for stories. She's so passionate and smart and sweet and just … ugh. I love her. I don't see how you could read this book and not fall in love with her.Speaking of falling in love … Max. Oh my goodness, Max. I just want to marry that guy. He's so wonderful and such a sweetheart and just … aggh.The friendship between Liesel and Max is so beautifully done, and something that's pretty atypical for a YA book (or for any book, I guess) … I mean, there's like a 10+ year age difference between them or something, and it could have come off as super creepy, but it isn't at all. It's wonderful. The little books Max makes for Liesel … GGGAAHH. Also the scene where she sees him getting marched through the streets, and she runs out to him … OH MY GODDDD. And at the very end where they're like the only people left alive, and they meet each other years later and they just hug each other and cry … Arrrgh, my heart.Oh, and of course there's Rudy. AAAAAHHHhhhh Rudy. He's so freaking adorable and awesome. And … I don't even know what else I can say. Words can't describe my love for that kid.His death at the end is pretty much the saddest thing in history. I can't think about it without almost crying. I just can't handle it. And you know, about halfway through the book, Death actually tells the reader that Rudy is going to die at the end … and it's still absolutely heartbreaking when it happens. AGH.And Hans! Hans Hubermann! Hans with his accordion and his wonderfulness. He's like my favorite literary dad ever (besides maybe Atticus Finch). The relationship between Hans and Liesel is so adorable. Ahhh … I have no words. A TYPICAL HANS HUBERMANN ARTWORK:[Insert silly illustration of a stick-figure girl with a huge smile and no eyes.]Liesel: Papa! I have no eyes!Hans: With a smile like that, you don't need eyes.You know, I can't decide what makes me sadder … Rudy dying or Hans dying. Well, who am I kidding. They're both equally sad.Okay, I could continue listing every single character in the book and talking about how wonderful they are, and how the characterization of every single one of them is so amazing and wonderful, so that you feel like you live in the same neighborhood as all of them, and yada yada … but I'll just stop there. Basically, the characters in this book are just phenomenal. Over all, the book just has such a powerful message about how storytelling is what helps us cope with the worst of times––and obviously, the Holocaust was one of the most terrifying periods of history. Although I have certainly never experienced something so traumatic, the book still strikes a personal chord with me––just because it really conveys how books and words are so powerful, and how they can save people's lives. I mean, Liesel's life is literally saved because of words at the end, since she's writing in the basement when the bombings happen. It's just … UGGGH. So … I don't know what else there is to say. After reading this a second time, I can still say that this is one of my favorite books ever. It's just stunning and astounding and beautiful, and I don't even know how to express my adoration of it. As an aspiring YA author, I can only hope that someday I'll be able to write a YA book this amazing. And I can't thank Markus Zusak enough for writing it. One little side note:There's a movie coming out next year! And I'm super excited. I haven't heard much news about it, but Liesel has been cast. She will be played by a young French actress named Sophie Nélisse … who I think has only been in one other (French) movie, so I guess at this point it's difficult to judge her acting ability. However, I think I'm already in love with her, because JUST LOOK HOW CUTE SHE IS. AWWW.… Okay, that's all.(Update: Yaaaay the trailer came out! I'M SO EXCITEDDDD.)