Markus Zusack's The Book Thief is the powerful story of a young girl's troubled life in WWII-era Germany. Through the voice of a singularly unconventional narrator - Death - and with the use of a grim, glowering sense of ironic humor, Zusack's book offers a new lens through which to view the horrors of Nazism, war, and intolerance (and, tangentially, the power of reading).
It took me a long time to read this book; I enjoyed it the whole way through, but it didn't really grab me until about the last hundred pages. Then I was hooked, and couldn't put it down. The language is rhythmic and and the story utterly devastating - my hands were shaking as I turned the last few pages. Zusack has crafted a disturbingly beautiful masterwork.
Marketed for young adults but worth reading by anyone.