Here's my review of The Book Thief.
1. It's long (550 pages), but I read it in two days. These two facts lead me to conclude that I must have liked it, even though I never in the course of reading said to myself, "I really love this story." I did, however, love other things.
2. The writing is exceptional. I'm not sure the superlatives exist to describe the writing. Even "exceptional" doesn't quite cut it. It's poetic. It's original. It's beautiful. It's also depressing because I will never, no matter how much I write, read, and study the craft, be able to write like this. The imagery is amazing, the command of the language total.
3. It's powerful.
4. If you're looking for fast moving with lots of plot twists and tricky situations for the main character, I'd go with something else.
5. Death as a narrator is kind of cool.
6. I almost cried on four occasions, and I hardly ever cry while reading.*
7. It's about, among other things, words. Words are awesome, which, while true, is also the major theme of the book. And we're not talking about words being awesome as in they're "really cool," (although they are), we're talking about words being awesome because they are capable of inducing awe and this induction of awe can lead people to do great and terrible things.
8. It is also about the dichotomous nature of human beings, equally capable of inspirational beauty and horrific brutality.
So, there you have it.
*The crying was not due to my jealousy of Markus Zusak's writing ability, although it certainly could have been.