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[Book Review] I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak (2002)

Plot Summary: The story begins with an introduction to the character of Ed Kennedy, a down-and-out underage taxi driver who is in love with his best friend Audrey, who, to his dismay, feels that she cares about him too much to date him. Ed is standing in a bank queue when a robbery takes place. He accidentally foils the robbers' escape, and is proclaimed a hero. Shortly after, he receives an Ace of Diamonds in the mail. The ace is from an unknown source. On the ace is written a list of three addresses and specific times next to each one. These represent a series of tasks that Ed must complete.

Author: Markus Zusak

Publisher: Pan Macmillian Austrialia

Publication Date: January 10, 2002

Genre: Teen Fiction

Review: by Lee

Having read and greatly enjoyed The Book Thief, I was more than excited to read more of Markus Zusak's work, and I Am the Messenger seemed like the perfect place to start.

What I Liked:

I Am the Messenger was not what I was expecting on the heels of reading The Book Thief.  Though it was profoundly touching and beautiful, the entire feel of the novel was different.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by Markus Zusak’s versatility in creating tone and mood.

Zusak has a pretty unique way of writing.  His use of dialogue is very casual and deceptively simple.  I know for a fact that writing a casual conversation is one of the most difficult skills to master, but Zusak really shows a knack for it.  That comes across loud and clear in I Am the Messenger as it follows a very average man and his encounters with very average people.  The tremendous depth and gravity that Zusak creates in these seemingly simple interactions is nothing less than remarkable.

Also, his characters themselves are so very interesting and endearing.  Even though Ed is clearly a deadbeat with no prospects, he is enjoyable and lovable, rich and complex.  Many people might find it difficult to believe that such a well-read character would perform so poorly in academics, but it is so very honest and realistic that I am impressed by Zusak’s ability to read people.  It takes an inherent ability to understand humanity to create such uniquely natural characters.

The story itself was an easy read because it was just so interesting.  I found myself really investing in the individual mini-stories of each card that Ed receives, and I really wondered who was behind the whole thing.  I thought it was very thought-provoking, and it was unusual for me to be so absolutely clueless about the mystery behind the whole thing.

What I Didn’t Like:

While, on the whole, I greatly enjoyed the novel, I continue to be disappointed by its ending.  I just don’t feel like it does the rest of the novel justice.  It really is a let down and a bit of a cop-out.  It has occurred to me that Zusak may have been trying to do something different and profound with it, but it still just rubs me the wrong way.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Author Bio: 

Markus Zusak was born in 1975 and is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief , which is translated into more than forty languages. First released in 2005, The Book Thief has spent a total of 375 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and still remains there eight years after it first came out.



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