I am the Messenger – Markus Zusak

Hi guys!

This is my first book for September! I can’t quite believe how fast this year is moving along! So far I’ve read 34 books which means that I have six to go to reach my Goodreads Challenge. Have any of you read ‘I am the Messenger’?

Ed Kennedy seems to be a nobody. He has a family, but his father just died, his mom seems to hate him, and his siblings have all moved away from the crappy town they all grew up in. Ed has four friends; Audrey, Marv, Ritchie, and The Doorman which used to be his father’s dog, but now Ed takes care of him. Ed drives a taxi for a job. He is anonymous, in an anonymous crappy town with an anonymous life. At least until the day of the bank robbery and when a playing card shows up in his possession. All of a sudden Ed Kenney isn’t a regular nobody anymore. 

I think I had a bit high hopes for this book since I loved ‘The Book Thief’ which is written by the same author. I didn’t dislike this book per say, but the writing style was different and more cryptic at times than ‘The Book Thief’ was. The storyline in itself is, how to put it?, strange with a twist. That’s very vague I know, but I don’t quite know how to explain it differently. The thing is that when you start reading this book you kind of, or I at least did, wonder why I started to read it. You’re thrown into action from the very first page, but then it subsides. Then you read a bit more and it gets interesting because a playing card shows up. Neither the characters nor you quite understand what a playing card has to do with this story, but as you read on you understand that these cards create a theme. I wasn’t able to pick up on this theme until almost at the very end of the book, but I’m not that good at card games, so maybe that’s the reason.

The actions these cards bring with them are mostly happy ones, or the result of the actions is happy. In this sense, the book is a ‘feel-good’ book. The actions that Ed is thrown into makes you believe that there is still hope for people in this world. Remember that I said this book is strange with a twist? Well, let me just say I didn’t have a clue what I was up for until the very end.

There is a lot of deeper meaning in this book that you have to read between the lines to catch. I did not do that, but when I finished and looked back at some of the stuff that happens in the book I realized that they had a deeper meaning than I first thought. I think this is interesting about Zusak’s writing. It makes me wonder if I read ‘The Book Thief’ ‘wrong’ too. No way of reading is wrong, but sometimes depending on how you read a book, you’ll get more out of it. This is the kind of book I imagine my American English teacher would give in class and have us write an essay about because it makes you reflect on the many aspects of life, and even though your aspect may not be in the book, it opens your eyes to different ones.

Characterwise this is a strange collection. Ed is the main character who seems to have his life on a track that doesn’t lead anywhere. He is hopelessly in love with Audrey who simply doesn’t look at him that way. She is a girl with a lot of pain in her past history but moves from boy to boy. Maybe on the lookout for something she’s never had? She works at the taxi firm too. Marv is another friend of Ed’s who also works at the taxi firm. He likes to argue and be in the right. He is extremely careful with his money, almost to the point where he tight in an unpleasant way. Marv also drives a car that seems to have run its course, but he doesn’t get a new one. Then there is Ritchie. Ritchie has two tattoos, no job, he drinks and he gambles. The thing these four have together is their card games and a strange sense of belonging. The focus in this book isn’t necessarily the characteristics of these characters, I think the focus is more on how people get along no matter their differences because they don’t have anybody else.

If you like strange books with a twist, give this one a go! It is an easy read with short chapters and nicely portioned sections. I liked it because of the many aspects of life I was able to glimpse through this story. It made me appreciate my own life and how fortunate I am. Maybe that’s one of the things Zusak wants me to think about when reading this book?

Published: 2002

Genre: Young Adult

Theme: Friends, cards, mystery

– The Book Reader

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