The interesting thing about this book is that it is written from the perspective of Death. He is the narrator and the observer of everything going on in the lives of the characters. At first this threw me a bit, but it ends up being a very effective way to tell the story. Zusak portrays death as a sympathetic character, rather than a cruel or sadistic one. And by presenting the story from that perspective, you get a more intimate look at what was going on with the people who could not escape Hitler and the Nazi rule.
As my sister told me, don't let the beginning keep you from reading the whole book. It's strange at first (because of the Death perspective) but in the end, you'll appreciate Zusak's choice. The characters are beautiful and complex and you want to cheer them on as they make their small, individual stands against the injustice of Hitler's regime.
I love WWII stories. And I think this one, even though it's fictional, is one of the very best I have ever read!