Monday, October 22, 2012

Just a Little Reviewer Love for Markus Zusak

When Suey asked me to write something for her Markus Zusak celebration, I have to admit I was a bit intimidated.  I mean, not only does Suey have an amazing and tireless enthusiasm for all things Zusak, but I always feel inadequate when writing about his work. For some reason I find it hard to convey my thoughts about any of the books of his I've read.

So then, we had this brilliant idea to gather quotes from other readers and bloggers, talking about how his books affected them.  So, here is a collection of Things People Say About Markus Zusak's Books.*  I know it is probably too long and many will skip over this post.  But, if you've read and loved a Markus Zusak book, read this to be reminded again of just how wonderful it was.  And if you haven't, read this as encouragement to pick one up as soon as possible.

The Book Thief love:

Deena from Of Cabbages and Kings:
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul...It's a work of art. Pure art. It's beautiful and it's ugly. Just like humanity itself...These characters were not real, but their story is, and it will haunt me until the day I die. 

Mary from Persephone Magazine:
If you strip away the strife and the tension of the historical period, you simply have the story of a young girl desperate to read as much as she can...She’s a bookish, brave, compassionate little girl and she is — I think — one of the best fictional characters ever.

Lanna of Bloggers[heart]Books:
[Zusak is] one of those writers that can do things with words that leaves you confused and in awe of how he can have access to the same language that you do and yet he can do something with it in a way that most people can't...Heartbreaking. Awful. Humanity at its absolute worst, and a little bit at its best.

Sarah of Sarah Reads Too Much:
The narrator makes no secret about what is going to happen, but allows the words to show their strength, their beauty and their weight in the telling.  The complexity of the human condition is shown in all its colors.

Nina from Project Read and Review:
I'd like to say that as I've read this novel, I've grown as a person. This book has been up for so many different awards, and I can see why. It is amazing. I don't think there's any word in all of the languages that can properly describe it's intensity and powerfulness. Whether historical novels are your thing or not, you must give this a try. It's just one of those novels that you've got to read at least once during your life time.

Raelke of Little Swag of Books:
Words cannot convey the absolute beauty and soul of this novel...It is one of those books where every single word plays its part, stringing together to form a heartbreaking, yet hopeful, story...This novel absolutely took my breath away.

Heather from Books are Life - Vita Libri:
This is a novel about friendship, love, loss, connection, the power of words for good and evil, grief, . . . and so much more!

Kathryn from I Get a Bit Obsessive:
A part of me does not even want to write about this book.  As if my attempts at describing it will reduce it down somehow, simplify it too much...[It is] a testament to the power, and the limitations of words.

Hazel from Booklist Online:
The astonishing characters, drawn without sentimentality, will grab readers. More than the overt message about the power of words, it’s Liesl’s confrontation with horrifying cruelty and her discovery of kindness in unexpected places that tell the heartbreaking truth.

Janssen from Everyday Reading:
The writing is gorgeous, the story compelling, and the final impact of the book is powerful. Nothing I say about this book will give it the credit it deserves, except to say that you all ought to read it. You really really ought to read it.  

Becky from Becky's Book Reviews:
The Book Thief leaves me speechless...It is beautiful and brilliant; absorbing and compelling...I don't love it because it's an easy read. I don't love it because it's a happy, happy novel. I love it because it is beautiful, haunting, ugly, yet hopeful.

Allie from A Literary Odyssey:
Without preaching, it shows everything there is to love about literature. It captures the escapist quality of a good book, the hope a story can give, and the way that stories can forever live on as part of you. Reading this I was reminded of why I love words, and why I love sharing that passion with all of you here.

Erin from Forever Young Adult:
Everyone in the book is so richly drawn, just by the language they use, and the overarching narrative gathers them all together in a finely-threaded lace...You aren't going to escape this book unscathed. It will wreck you; this is fair warning. But it's some of the most beautiful, amazing, rewarding wreckage you'll ever experience. This is the kind of book that makes me grateful to be alive. It's that good.

Jessica from Books: A True Story:
It’s a thought-provoking story on the power of words and friendship. Despite the serious subject, it still manages to be funny sometimes

Best of B's Book Blog!:
You know, when you love a book this much, it's hard to find anything to say at all. You know what you say is not going to do the book justice...His writing is extraodinary. Delightful. Magical. Reading his beautifully-strung-together words is pure joy. 

Jennifer at The Literate Mother:
Zusak is a masterful writer, his descriptions capture the everyday in an unusual way...Zusak creates a set of characters never to be forgotten.

Natasha at Maw Books Blog:
The book showcases mans ability to be brutal and the ability to have great compassion. It humanizes those who lived through World War II and teaches us how small defiance’s make a large difference.

Karen from U Krakovianki Reviews:
I found Death’s constant interruptions to the story to be irritating and frustrating, but as I read, I decided that death is very much just that–an interruption to the smoothly flowing story of life. Death is constantly interrupting–telling us things that we would rather not know–and then the story moves on. The interruptions do not stop the story–it goes on. Some people are no longer part of the story, but it goes on just the same, until death interrupts again: a pattern as old as the world.

Booklogged from A Reader's Journal:
The whole book is filled with beautiful and unexpected arrangements of words. This alone is not what makes the book so outstanding. The story is compelling. The characters are flawed but important. You love them. You care about them. You worry and cry for them. Even Death.

Briar from 3 Evil Cousins
I found myself increasingly interested in the events that took place and by the end of the novel I was practically ripping at the pages, shaken and moved by the beautiful description and the heartfelt dialogue...Somehow both times the ending was explained (the first merely an outline, the second fully fleshed out) it was shattering and breathtaking.

Tay from 3 Evil Cousins:
The author has a way of making the smallest details- the color of someone’s eyes, or the texture of their hair- the most important, and mystery is interwoven with every event, no matter how tiny.

Literary Feline from Musings of a Bookish Kitty:
While a heartbreaking and brutal story at times, this is also a novel of hope and resilience. It demonstrates the ugly side of humanity as well as the beautiful...The book may be long but I savored every word. I even found myself rereading passages not because I didn't understand them, but because I wanted to re-experience the words, feel them in my mind and taste them on my tongue.

Joanne of Booklover Book Reviews:
The true gifts in this novel that make it so difficult to put down are the special relationships Leisel develops with the wonderful ensemble cast of characters from all walks of life...With this tale Markus Zusak reminds us of the extraordinary power of the written word – that books of themselves are so much more than paper and glue.

Shelver 506 from Bookshelvers Anonymous:
But the best thing about Death is that he's the mouthpiece for Zusak's indescribably delicious phrases..."Shivering" snow and the "long legs of daylight" and the sky "simmering and boiling like a soup" and all the warm, comforting descriptions of her papa's smell.

Eliza of Literary Fangirl Book Reviews:
The narrative is unique and decadent, the story painful and sweet. Even though you know it can't be a happy story, the fullness leads you through.

Lisa of Lit and Life:
What most astounded me about this book, what grabbed me immediately, was the poetry of Zusak's writing...Zusak has pushed "poetic" further than any author I recall, blending prose and pure poetry into one novel. The writing in The Book Thief is compelling and beautiful, even when the images Zusak is painting are not so beautiful.

Hannah from WordLily:
I found the voice of this book to be wholly unique...The writing is superb, achingly beautiful...A gorgeous book with a heinous setting. I say setting because war is not really what the book is about. It’s a backdrop, sure, and hardly a page goes by without mention of it, but the book is about Liesel, about words.

Marie from Boston Bibliophile:
It's a beautiful, compelling novel about the power of love (and reading) to help and heal...Zusak displays remarkable control throughout- during some of the really grim and heart-rending passages,...he uses a firm, deft hand to convey the characters' feelings without going over the top or being melodramatic.

Alita of Alita Reads:
And did I mention the writing? There are phrases about Death catching souls that will stay with me for a long long time, not just because they’re heart wrenching, but also because of how poetically beautiful they are.

Stefanie from So Many Books:
This is one of those books where you love all the characters and even though you know how the war ends, even though you know what happens, you hope that maybe here, maybe in this book, history can be changed, people can be saved and that everything might turn out alright...One of the things I liked best about the book is the compassion and beauty that shine through the ugliness. And there is lots of ugliness. But there is lots of love too. 

thekoolaidmom from In the Shadow of Mt. TBR:
Summarizing the book is simple.  Explaining and conveying how it effected me, the reader, is anything but...The Book Thief by Markus Zasuk is haunting and breath-taking, poetically beautiful and filled with truth...It is a Homeric work that is full of joy and sorrow, anger and forgiveness, love and loss. 

Liz B. from A Chair, a Fireplace & and Tea Cozy:
I write this review months after the book is over, this fiction book about not real people, and my heart breaks for Rudy all over again. "He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry."

Robin from My Two Blessings:
There are so many nuances to this story that it would be impossible to explain. Zusak manages to make an ugly story interesting with words that provide vivid images.

Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog:
By putting several very human faces on an important and painful era in world history, Zusak transforms the Holocaust from an abstract concept into a horrible thing that people did to other people. But he also spotlights the ways in which individuals reached out, despite the threat of death, to help and save others, and he shows that one person who is willing to step out and make the right decision really can make a difference.

Wendy from CaribousMom:
Poignant, gripping, compelling, lyrical and tragic – The Book Thief is all this and more...[Zusak's] novel will resonate with book lovers. It is a story larger than life; one that touches the reader’s heart and never lets go. Death’s voice, at once both playful and profound, delivers the ending of this novel with a flourish that will break your heart.

Eva from A Striped Armchair:
This is the kind of book that gets under your skin: at first, you know you’re enjoying it, then slowly you realise you don’t want to put it down, and finally, even though you know it’s going to be horrible, you have to keep reading until the bitter end...It’s triumphant, tragic, heartrending, and all of those other adjectives whose use has become hackneyed. This book breathes fresh life into all of them.

Stephanie of Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-Holic:
This is a story of innocence and war; politics and anger; hope and friendship. But most of all it is the story of words.

Suey from It's All About Books:
The writing is amazing, very poetic and descriptive. You can totally FEEL what's going on. This time through, I tried to write down some of the ways phrases he used to describe things, but I gave up after awhile. There were too many! Too bad I don't have words to describe his writing! You'll just have to go read it for yourself, if you haven't already!

I Am the Messenger love:

Darren from Bart's Bookshelf:
Ed, was a fantastic character, self-effacing, but as he completed the task set to him, he realises what he has to give, his friends, family and the wider community around him...Wonderfully written, I am the Messenger, is a touching story that never becomes overly sentimental, with a rewarding protagonist you can invest yourself in.

Clover of Fluttering Butterflies:
I think it could have been very easy for Zusak to turn this story into something very cheesy and over the top, but he doesn't. It could have been preachy, but it didn't. As well as having quite a few melodramatic moments as Ed changes the lives of others, there's always lots of humour...Beautifully written and a lovely message sent to all of us. That we all can be more than we think, that we all have the power to change our own lives and the lives of those around us.

Mrs. Anderson from YA Love:
Once I got into the flow of the book I didn’t want to put it down.  I really like Ed.  He’s completely ordinary and really doesn’t have anything going for him...The more Ed focuses on the cards and his missions, the more dynamic he becomes.  It’s no surprise to me that I Am the Messenger was a Printz finalist; it’s a wonderful, beautiful book.

Jessica from The Bluestocking Society:
Zusak is clearly a genius...It’s the book that I’ve become a disciple for – my go-to book recommendation.

Carrie from Books and Movies:
Watching Ed make his way through the tasks on the cards was like watching someone learning how to live...It is a book that shows how the most normal of people can do extraordinary things.

Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner:
Zusack manages to deliver a moving story that becomes the ultimate message, in my opinion, for humanity...anyone, no matter how ordinary you are, can do something good to help someone and that it is just a matter of having the confidence in yourself to do so.

Megan from YA? Why Not?:
I really enjoyed this book, and yet I am having a difficult time finding the words to explain why.
I liked that the messages were so simple and beautiful. I liked Ed’s damaged and flawed friends. I loved the person Ed becomes. And the writing? It is rich and unsentimental and at times brutal, but every word is important.

Aarti from BookLust:
The book itself is a messenger from Markus Zusak to you, challenging you to make your world better...[Ed] spends the entirety of the book making other people's lives better. Sometimes in huge, life-altering ways, and sometimes in small but unforgettable ones, but in every instance, the recipient's life is improved and that person is truly, immeasurably grateful...It's a great, thought-provoking read, and I think anyone reading it will be affected- at least for a little while- to practice random acts of kindness.

Kimbofo of Reading Matters:
Zusak deftly lightens tragedy with dark humour and charts a young man's personal growth without being too obvious...It's quite a page-turning read, because ultimately you want to know who's behind Ed's mission.

Novel Insights:
Sometimes dangerous, sometimes beautiful – his experiences turn his life up-side down...It was a really enjoyable and original read, and for me confirms that Zusak is a master of tugging at the heart strings without a saccharine-sweet approach.

Kyle from Book Review Maniac:
Markus Zusak grabed my attention at the very first sentence...Make sure you have the time to finish it when you start because at the first sentence you will be fully immersed in the life of Ed Kennedy.

Alessandra from Out of the Blue:
While [Ed] finds a way to solve other people's problems, he also becomes more confident and in charge of his own life. In this regard, I am the Messenger is a sort of coming of age novel.

Holly from Book Harbinger:
Reading a book by Markus Zusak is a unique reading experience...If you are to read his books for only one reason it would be for his writing alone. Not one word is wasted, and the sharpness of his phrases can literally be cutting...The words he chooses are simple but the way he uses them is profound...You could almost open the book and quote any passage...a creative, quirky, outstanding YA novel that will make you laugh, cry and think as only the best books do.

Adele from Persnickety Snark:
What immediately struck me about I Am the Messenger was how effortless it appeared. Zusak has a way with the simple sentence. I would find myself often stopping to think about the way he'd craft one but there was always a pervading sense of humour that really won me over...It is the humour that lifts it above being considered an "issues book" but I never for one second considered it such despite its fantastic social commentary.

Jill from The O.W.L.:
In the end I was satisfied with what I learned but still without all the answers. Just enough was left untold for me to have to think and work out for myself. The lessons Ed learned are still in my mind - sticking with me and making me look at life differently.

April from Good Books & Good Wine:
The stories of the people helped by Ed touched my heart. I know that sounds incredibly dumb, but I got weepy over Christmas lights, bare feet, and an ice cream cone. It made me want to perform small acts of kindness in my life...Zusak excels not only in the big picture, but in the minute details. He uses phrasing that made me think of small every day acts in a whole new way...Friends, I can say straight up when confronted with a non-YA believer, hand them a book by Zusak for a rich, layered, beautiful read. I promise his book will go a long way in converting your friend to YA.

Suey from It's All About Books (review 1 & review 2):
It was about helping people, looking outside yourself for a change, seeing what's going on around you, and doing small things that make a big difference.
[Ed] reminded me a lot of Holden Caulfield...only he's not as obnoxious.

Underdogs love:

Underdogs contains all three of the following stories published in one volume, and these reviews are of any/all of these stories:
Fighting Ruben Wolfe
Getting the Girl

Jenny of Jenny's Books:
In fact I wasn’t expecting to like this book much.  People’s first novels are sometimes not very good, and this was Markus Zusak’s first novel.  Furthermore I have only sisters and am greatly averse to pain, so I was thinking that I would be unable to identify with anything here.  But actually it was quite moving...They fight their circumstances!  They stick together and are brothers!  It’s very uplifting.

Nancy from 5MinutesForBooks.com:
The first person narration by younger brother Cam is intelligent and insightful and his view of the world around him more than makes up for the lack of anything happening...Cameron grows up, both physically and emotionally, and Zusak’s writing also evolved, with Getting the Girl the best of the three books.

Jessica from I Read to Relax!:
I was surprised how much I loved this story...Really it's about a family...A family of survivors, fighters, that come together to beat all the odds!

Sarah from GreenBeanTeenQueen
The Wolfe brothers are memorable and I immediately liked them. Each book reads like a teenage boys ramblings and is sure to appeal to guy readers.

Linda from Silly Little Mischief:
While reading The Underdog, I thought eh, the writings good but the story is so so. I started to enjoy it more during Fighting Ruben Wolfe, but fell in love with Cameron in Getting The Girl...[I] cannot express how much I loved this trilogy. While it's nothing like The Book Thief, the writing is amazing. The character development over the trilogy is some of the best I've read.

Kip from Guys Lit Wire:
It is interesting to read this earliest work from Zusak and see how his writing has improved, but the vivid characters and engaging stories were there from the beginning...All three of the novels are short, fast-paced and humorous. It is wonderful to follow Cameron deciding what type of person he wants to be and fighting to get to that end. Fans of any of Zusak's other works, especially I am the Messenger, should read through this trilogy.

Dawn from Read Love:
When I began reading the first book in Underdogs, fearful that it would prove to be vastly inferior to The Book Thief (one of my all-time favorite books), I found real and rapid assurance that the hand that authored that masterpiece also wrote these words. In The Underdog,...Markus Zusak's talent and unique style, and the poetic beauty that shapes The Book Thief, are already present.  Let me tell you what I love about Markus Zusak's writing: His characterization. He writes about real people. These aren't heroic renderings of polished, perfect humans like you'll find on TV. Cameron and Ruben, their family, and the other folks who inhabit their world, are dirty, flawed, messy, and raw...Pick up this book, meet this family, and experience the beauty of Cameron's heart, soul, and words.

Jenny from Alternate Readality
This is Zusak we're talking about and while, yes, I love his entirely unique writing style, I adore his beautifully honest stories with their sweet messages even more...Life is going to keep shoving you down, but you have to keep getting up and fighting back. I found myself just as touched and comforted reading this one as any of his others and I consider myself very lucky to have finally had the pleasure.

Katie from Mundie Moms:
At the heart of this story is a realistic portrayal of a teenager who wants to fall in love, and be loved, who has dreams and aspirations he wants to achieve...Aside from the love interests, brotherly love/brotherly fights, and the trouble they cause, is a witty, realistic portrayal of life, choices, consequences and finding our place in the world. Life isn't always about winning, or winning the girl. It's about being yourself, and never giving up, no matter how many times you get knocked down.
Suey from It's All About Books:
Awesome, very poetic writing! Wonderful observations on the relationship of brothers, the importance of family, the coming of age, and the finding of oneself. All done in way no one else can...These books are first and foremost about this powerful brother bond these two have going. They fight, they tease, they are up to no good, but they are there for each other.

Whew!  If you read any of this, pat yourself on the back!  Also, if your review wasn't included, feel free to leave a link and a favorite excerpt in the comments for us to enjoy.  Or just tell us what you love most about Zusak's books.

*I've tried to keep all spelling, grammar, and formatting as it was in each original post, as well as the reviewers' intention, though these are excerpts.  

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Wow. I applaud you for compiling that. I didn't know there was a Markus Zusak celebration, but if anyone deserved one, he does. I'm blown away by the beauty of his writing and its simplicity. I read three of his books, including The Book Thief, I am the Messenger, and Fighting Reuben Wolfe. All three are spectacular. I cried like a baby at the end of The Book Thief and Fighting Reuben Wolfe.

    1. I totally agree he deserves some celebrating! Yeah, compiling this took some TIME.

  2. Wow thanks so much for including me in this list! I'm excited to read through and discover some new book blogs!

    1. Thanks for reviewing one of his books! It was pretty fun to see all the different (but similar) viewpoints.

  3. This is an amazing compilation! Thank you for putting it together. I feel the same way you do, that it is hard to put my feelings about Zusak's work into words. I'm that way with all books that I truly love.

    1. I'm glad you liked the compilation. I guess it's true the more we love a book, the less we know how to express it. How awkward :)

  4. Yes, it was lengthy but Zusak deserves the love! This must have taken you awhile. I applaud you.

  5. Love how this post turned out! Amazing! So fun to see, in one spot, all these thoughts about his books. Awesome job!

    1. Thanks for letting me be a part of the Zusak love :)


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