Monday, October 7, 2013

I am the Messenger - Markus Zusak

protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail.

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?
Summary from the book, cover art from

My Review: Ed Kennedy is living day-to-day as an underpaid, underage cabdriver. All this changes one fateful day when he finds himself among many lying on the floor during a bank robbery. Utter coincidence allows him to become a hero that day as he stops the thief. Soon after mysterious ace cards beginning arriving addressed to Ed. Each card contains three clues. These clues lead to people who are in need of aid. Ed's mission is to uncover just what what these people need and then to provide it. Some of these tasks are easy but some take much thought and bravery. Regardless Ed must press on, as failure is not an option.

Ed Kennedy is a rather likable character. At only nineteen he lives alone with his dog, the Doorman. His father has recently died, by all accounts he is estranged to his siblings, and he is somewhat of a disappointment to his mother. He maintains only a small group of friends that he regularly joins in card games. All-in-all Ed leads a simple but content life. Yet as Ed faces the tasks brought upon him by these mysterious cards, and as a consequence brings happiness to the selected people, he begins to realize that he is not only bettering their lives but his as well.

I truly enjoyed every moment inside the pages of this book. I loved the pacing of the story - the combination of heart-racing moments with bouts of melodically simplicity. The clues inscribed on the cards were remarkably clever. The process of Ed's transformation as he aided others was a delight to behold. The unexpected twist at the end was absolutely perfect and leaves one pondering. The story provides plenty of opportunity for laughs within which hides a deliberate parable.  Among the last pages is a line that reads "maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of". This line perfectly sums up the moral of the book. It is impossible to read this book and not look at others differently. I found myself asking what little things I can do to make a difference in someone's life. What a perfect moral for all of us, especially young adults. Much like Zusak's other novel The Book Thief this one is located in the YA section yet transcends generations and is most certainly a title geared at adults as well.

My Rating: 5 Stars

To Sum it up: Both thought-provoking and hilarious this is an entertaining read containing a paramount message.

Sensitive readers: There is language that will be offensive to some, along with frequent mention of alcohol and smoking. The book also references sex on occasion but does not go into any detail. I found all of this to be appropriate to the plot but as a librarian would recommend this to the 15+ age group.


Meredith said...

I loved The Book Thief. Looking forward to this one now. Thanks for the review.

JoanneMarie Faust said...

After reading Zusak's amazing The Book Thief, I went in search of anything else he wrote and found The Messenger. I had to suspend belief that any of this was possible, but once that's accomplished, this book is really very good.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't aware of this book. Loved The Book Thief, so will be finding this one as well. Thanks for a tempting review!

Susan @ Reading World said...

I really enjoyed this book too- except for the ending. It felt kind of like the author didn't know how to bring it all to a plausible conclusion so just kind of gave up and went with a "and-then-he-woke-up-and-realized-it-was-all-a-dream" sort of ending.

MindySue said...



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