Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday Reviews: I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I Am the Messenger I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think there's only so many way to say Awesome and this book deserves each of them. Zusak (of whom I'm a big ol' fan after reading The Book Thief) writes in a fast-paced style that works really well for this story of Ed, who is sent out on a mission to deliver messages to those in need. He doesn't know what the people need or what the message is...he has to figure it out. Along the way, he grows. It's simple, it's beautiful, and has a metafictional ending that's not only satisfying, but goosebumpy (though perhaps not something every fifteen year old will understand).

Sure, Zusak's in love with fragment-length paragraphs, but it is believeable to the voice of the youngish narrator. He's nineteen, has a job, and is struggling to figure out his life--so I do question the age range normally assigned to this book: the teen audience. It should definitely be aimed at older teens, in my opinion. There's cursing and violence and sexual content, which isn't a big deal to today's teens, but the conflict that Ed undergoes is geared to sixteen-and-ups who are about to hit the real world. Thirteen year olds might not enjoy it as much.

It's also a good thing that I read Zusak was Australian, because there're turns of phrase that would have tripped me up otherwise. Not a big deal, but again, it speaks to the age of the target audience. After all, American kids go to "college," not "university." (Not that American kids wouldn't get it, just that there's a difference in semantics that requires some adjustment.)

I really enjoyed the layout of the book. It goes from each ace of a normal suit of cards and goes through each card until the king, then switches suits. That might be just a stylistic thing, but it resonated with me. Ending on the suit of hearts was very telling. The symbols were simple, but impactful, adding to the story rather than taking over the story--which is really easy to do when a story follows a conceit like that.

Overall, Ed comes across like a normal guy doing extraordinary things...which is exactly how he should come across. The book left me believing that, at any minute, Ed could come knocking on my door to deliver a message. And, in a way, he did. Well done.

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  1. This is one of my faves too. I hated the ending, but somehow, the rest of the book made up for it.

  2. Ignoring recommendations.

    Ignoring recommendations.

    Too many books in the queue already.

    Ignoring recommendations.

    Ah, hell, what's one more?

  3. Come on, Deb. You know you want to....

  4. Hated the ending more than any book I've ever read. But the rest was good enough that I wanted to read his other stuff and did.

  5. Hm, I'm feeling all alone on the ending. =(

    I really thought that it made the whole book "the message" and added a bit of resonance, for me.

    I'm really curious: What was it that you guys didn't dig? Too deus ex machina?

    Warning for readers of future comments: SPOILERS PROBABLE

  6. I haven't read this yet, but really want to, as I loved The Book Thief.


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