Friday, February 11, 2011

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Published: February 8, 2005
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
(357 pages, hardcover)
Summary: 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.
My thoughts: After reading The Book Thief, I was a little antsy to pick up another Markus Zusak novel. Not because it was bad, but because it was so amazing I was worried The Messenger would taint my opinion of Zusak. But this one was another great novel. It follows Ed Kennedy, the "messenger," an average underachieving 19-year-old who accidentally stops a bank robbery. What I really loved about Ed was how average he was. Ed was just a normal guy trying to get by unnoticed; he wasn't a hero, nor did he want to be, and it was nice to read about someone un-special who realizes his purpose.
One thing I wasn't expecting from this novel was humor; The Book Thief was anything but humorous, but I laughed a lot while reading The Messenger. Ed's friends, particularly Marv and Ritchie, were downright hilarious. Zusak has a talent for switching from light to dark, and i found myself on a sort of roller coaster during the novel. The book had a perfect balance of deep, meaningful passages, along with laugh-out-loud moments, and even a few romantic parts that made me ache just as much as Ed. One of the great things about reading from a male POV can sometimes be seeing how the protagonist deals with their romantic relationships; Ed wasn't your typical 'I'm a man so I don't care about anything' guy characters. He ranged from dark and purposeful, to hesitant and totally in love. That being said, the romance was definitely not overwhelming. The abrupt ending did leave me a little unsatisfied, but only to the point of wishing there was more, not to the point where I was upset or unhappy with how it ended.
The premise of the story is definitely interesting and out-there. Teenage guy finds a playing card in the mail with addresses on it from some unknown source. Said teenage boy then finds himself fulfilling the "messages" and realizing he isn't as useless as he thought he was. Definitely intriguing, if you ask me. And the way Zusak executed the entire plot was nothing short of extraordinary. It was gripping and easy to read, in a thought-provoking way. The action was real and gritty; his missions were powerful yet simple. Ed's transformation was certainly remarkable, but more than anything, the way everything is so connected made the book most interesting. Not once did the book drag or get boring; it was constantly pulling me back in, whether it be with humor or action or romance.
Ed's friends were well-written, as were the other secondary characters. They were not only funny as heck, they were completely believable and honest. Ed's relationships felt genuine. As an eternal, hopeless romantic, I didn't expect to get much romance from this novel. And honestly, if there hadn't been any, I don't know that I would've missed it all that much. But despite that fact, I loved Ed and Audrey's relationship; it was sweet and realistic. I don't want to ruin anything, but it was a perfect addition to the already fantastic plot.
Lastly, the writing is amazing. Zusak is one of my favorite authors, and with good reason. The way he writes is not only simplistic and easy to follow, it is deep and makes you think. Even though I wanted desperately to know what was happening next, I still took the time to reflect on the beauty of the passages. And the best part: they didn't feel out of place in the slightest amongst Ed's more hormonal or mundane thoughts. I genuinely felt Ed as a character, and felt his growth; his reflections on his "messages" and his life were insightful and meaningful. It was one of those books I wanted to quote every page. Zusak blends teenage angst and deeper meanings perfectly. I Am the Messenger is not a book you want to rush through, no matter how tempting it may be.
Covering the Cover: At first I didn't like this cover; it's kind of strange and almost dull. But after reading the story, it fits so very perfectly, and is kind of eye-catching
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5 stars


Skye (In The Good Books) said...

Such an amazing book! Glad you enjoyed it.

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