Book Review: I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Title: I Am the Messenger
Author: Markus Zusak
Publication Date: January 30th 2014
ISBN: 9780375836671
Publication Date: October 1st 2002
Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf
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By the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Book Thief, this is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love.

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?

This book is a 2005 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and recipient of five starred reviews.

After capturing a bank robber, nineteen-year-old cab driver Ed Kennedy begins receiving mysterious messages that direct him to addresses where people need help, and he begins getting over his lifelong feeling of worthlessness.
Okay so from the sound of its title, you dear readers may assume that I Am the Messenger is some kind of a prophecy book, but no. I must discourage you to link this book to that genre. I also assume that you know that this book is a Markus Zusak book and you have already read The Book Thief. I must warn you though that Book Thief is world’s apart from the Messenger. Do not even tempt to compare the two books because both have unique stories to tell and they have different message to deliver to its readers. 

Although this book caught my attention because of the Book Thief, I also fell in love with its story. It is the kind of book that readers will fall in love with because it’ll keep them engross with the main character as he delivers his messages and as he interacts to the different characters he meets along the way. 

The book is a story of a 19 year old underage taxi driver, Ed, whom because of an unexpected event, gained the interest of someone. Later on he started receiving ace cards which are accompanied with hidden messages that are to be figured out by Ed. 

As a reader who loves a little suspense when reading, this got me excited. I loved the puzzles and it’s definitely a genius idea! 

I guess part of the reason why he was specifically chosen to deliver the messages was that, he wasn’t really motivated with his life. He was so contented living in his town, earning a just a little money to support him, and not really caring if he’s not studying but part of him was always wondering if he really does have a purpose on Earth. He has so much potential but he isn’t motivated to do something more of his life. 

What I like about Ed is his unassuming personality. Though, his brain was at war at the messages sent to him, he still did his best to do his duties. He didn’t care if there was a reward for all the good things he did. Somehow, I Am the Messenger can also be categorized as a coming-of-age book because the main character began to realize his worth and he also began to believe in himself at the end. He learned how to fight for his dreams and for himself. It dawned on him that he can also succeed just like his siblings if he only put his mind onto his dreams. 

Favorite Characters 

I think there are a few characters that’s caught my interest. The first one was Milla Johnson. She’s eighty-two. She was living on his own and the arrival of Ed in her life brought back her fondest memories of her husband. I could feel the joy and pure love in her heart as Ed did all the things Jimmy used to do with her. That was quite touching. I really thought Ed loved the attention because we all know he needed that – what with all the abusive remarks he always hear when his mother talks to him. 

Next is Father Thomas O’Reilly. I’ve always been amazed by how dedicated and passionate priests because they take a vow to live simply to spread the word of God. That’s who Father Thomas is. He sacrificed all his richness just to serve the church. He didn’t lose his faith even when the people are losing their interest in going to church. And I admired how Ed gave solution to that problem. I actually quoted his line to Ed when he thanked her. And I must admit that it’s really true. He has this innate ability to bring joy to people and he seems so innocent, so unaware that he was doing something good. He’s really gifted. 
“You know, they say that there are countless saints who have nothing to do with Church and almost no knowledge of God. But they say God walks with those people without them ever knowing it.” His eyes are inside me now, followed by the words. “You’re one of those people, Ed. It’s an honor to know you.” 
I also liked Angie Carusso. Ed buying her an ice cream might be a very simple gesture but it really touched me. As this book says, big things are often just small things that are noticed. It might be a small thing to other people but for Angie, tit made her feel important. The dialogue of her daughter was really sweet. 
She thanks me a few times more, but the best words I hear all day come to me right when I think it’s over. It’s the girl, Casey. She twists herself onto Angie’s hand and says, “Next week I’ll give you a bite of mine, Mum.” 
Then there’s Lua Tatupu and his family. They are a very simple family who manages to survive despite their financial problems. They find happiness even in the smallest things. As Christmas is fast approaching, their children love to see the Christmas lights Lua has put in front of their house even if only four balls are emitting light. 

And of course, who can forget Ed’s clique? Of the three, I happen to have a very soft spot for Marv. He seems to be a very uncaring man, who doesn’t have a responsibility but his actions counteract what he lets his friends believe. So upon the arrival of the last card, Ed decided to act on it. I guess, one of the lessons, this book wants to give us, is that we have to really observe people to know their inner goodness. Do not judge people based on how they look. More often, people who act the happiest are sometimes the loneliest inside. 

Over all, I Am the Messenger is a very good book that deserves to be included in your bookshelves. So dear readers, if you haven’t read this one yet, move it up in your TBR list. Hope this review helped you decide which book will be next on your reading list.

When reason fails, the devil helps.
Why can’t the world hear? I ask myself. Within a few moments I ask it many times. Because it doesn’t care, I finally answer, and I know I’m right. It’s like I’ve been chosen. But chosen for what? I ask. The answer’s quite simple: To care.
She soon says, “You’re my bestfriend, Ed.” “I know.” You can kill a man with those words. No gun. No bullets. Just words and a girl.
“You know, they say that there are countless saints who have nothing to do with Church and almost no knowledge of God. But they say God walks with those people without them ever knowing it.” His eyes are inside me now, followed by the words. “You’re one of those people, Ed. It’s an honor to know you.”
She doesn’t want to feel that way about me, and I can accept that, but I wonder if she’ll ever know that no one will love her as hard as I do.
Big things are often just small things that are noticed.
Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.
Everything has its purpose.
People die of broken hearts. They have heart attacks. And it’s the heart that hurt that most when things go wrong and fall apart.
Usually, we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay,” we say. “I’m alright.” But sometimes the truth arrives on you, and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer – it’s a question.
“I did it all to you. I made you a less-than-competent taxi driver and got you to do all those things you couldn’t.”

We stand now, staring. Waiting for more words.

"And why?”

He pauses, but he doesn’t move back.

“I did it because you are the epitome of ordinariness, Ed.”

He looks at me seriously.

“And if a guy like you can stand up and do what you did for all those people, well, maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of.”

He becomes intense now. Emotional. This is everything.

“Maybe even I can.”

Australian author Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich and about Jews being marched through his mother’s small, German town. He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell.

“We have these images of the straight-marching lines of boys and the ‘Heil Hitlers’ and this idea that everyone in Germany was in it together. But there still were rebellious children and people who didn’t follow the rules and people who hid Jews and other people in their houses. So there’s another side to Nazi Germany,” said Zusak in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

At the age of 30, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today’s most innovative and poetic novelists. With the publication of The Book Thief, he is now being dubbed a ‘literary phenomenon’ by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is the award-winning author of four previous books for young adults: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger, recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney.

View my review of The Book Thief!

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