The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Book Thief By Robin D. Owens

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an intriguing historical novel about a young woman named Jocelyn, who lives in a peaceful town called Bonnyville in the Australian state of South Australia. It was a life that she never dreamed of, given to her by her wealthy Uncles in order to take away her own inheritance when her aunt passed away. When Jocelyn is eleven years old, her Uncle sends her to stay with his old friend and maid in their farm for the summer, promising her that they will return once she is old enough. Instead, they disappear.

Jocelyn longs to return home, but her fears are groundless. She has no idea where she is, or how she got her present. Her story soon unravels and she is faced with murder, mystery, and madness all at the same time. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is his finest novel yet.

Zusak weaves a rather intricate tale of history into the tale of this simple girl. I have read many books that focused on history and other far more serious topics, but The Book Thief was very readable. The characters were real and engaging. Zusak uses historical fact to create an engrossing tale.

The book starts out by introducing us to Jocelyn who is from a very wealthy family. Her mother always told Jocelyn and everyone else that money could not buy happiness, that happiness was obtained through service. Jocelyn is taken to a boarding school run by a man named Frank, who teaches her a fundamental education in the values of the Unites States. He takes a very strong interest in Jocelyn’s studies, which include reading historical novels of the period, as well as writing her own.

Frank takes Jocelyn on a personal tour through the old American West. He tells her interesting stories of gold rushes and ghost towns, the end of the gold rush, the destruction of the buffalo herd, and more. These trips seem so important to Jocelyn that even when she is in a comfortable hotel where everything is going smoothly, she cannot stop thinking about the trip. After the tour, Frank offers Jocelyn a ride to her cabin for the night, however, before she can board the plane, they find out that her mother has disappeared.

Once again, we enter the world of Frank and Jocelyn as they seek clues to her mother’s whereabouts. Along the way, they are forced to deal with an array of unexpected events including an armed robber, a dead body, mysterious men in suits, and a number of others all connected to the history of the Unites States. The novel quickly becomes a suspense story that builds tension until the very end. This keeps the reader interested throughout the book.

The Book Thief by Robin D. Owens really captured the American West in its entirety. The book starts in a small town that seems like any other small town in America. The town is populated only by a few people and there is little sign of life except for a local store. One evening, Jocelyn stumbles into the store and immediately begins to be unnerved by a string of dead bodies that have been found on the sidewalk. This prompts her to investigate further and discover that the bodies were those of three cowboys who were found dead after taking part in a cattle hunt the previous day.

From the beginning, I was afraid that the book thief series would become predictable and lose the mystery that made the first novel so successful. However, The Book Thief easily kept my attention and kept me reading through to the end. The story was exciting and the characters intriguing. Robin D. Owens does a great job of tying together all of the threads of the story without losing track of the reader’s anticipation. The Book Thief will definitely be in my top five novels ever.

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