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I Am the Messenger review

January 25, 2009

From the Publisher: 13702072

Meet Ed Kennedy—underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That’s when the first Ace arrives. That’s when Ed becomes the messenger. . . .

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

Winner of the 2003 Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia, I Am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love.

Review and Grade: A

I received this book as a gift, which always makes me wary, but I enjoyed it much more than I expected. I’ve agonized for days over how to describe this book, and I’ve finally accepted that any attempt will fail. I did not know what to expect when I read this book, and I don’t know what to tell you to expect when you read it. All I can say is that its different in an incredibly refreshing way.

It’s considered a YA novel, but I really did not think it reads like one. The language in particular is mature, so look it over before giving it to kids. Even so, the message of the book is powerful without ever being preachy. The writing style is light, human and vivid. One of the things that Zusak does particularly well throughout the book is to personify nature. For example on page 26, “the breeze looks away- almost embarassed at having watched,” and on page 155 “our footsteps run, and I don’t want them to end.” Similar descriptions of the sun and the moon are scattered throughout, but I’ll let you find them.

There is one other aspect of the book which gives it a whole new dimension. It’s a literary risk but Zusak pulls it off. It kills me that I can’t discuss it without spoiling the ending, but if you can take my word for it, you’ll see that Mark Zusak wraps his book up like a gift. In some ways, I suppose its almost a framing technique, but it makes the book exist on a number of planes and regardless of how you relate to the characters, the book will make you examine your life.


I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for a change of any sort.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. msmazzola permalink
    January 28, 2009 8:14 am

    I’ve been debating whether to read this. I loved The Book Thief and was worried I would be disappointed. I think you convinced me to check this one out.

    • January 28, 2009 9:53 am

      I haven’t read The Book Thief but I’ve heard they are very different. I’m guessing they are different enough that you won’t be disappointed!

  2. Joey permalink
    December 16, 2009 8:15 pm

    I liked the book a lot, until the ending. The ending pretty much ruined it for me. They could have done something else with it. I did like the writing style, however.

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