Sunday, September 19, 2010

Alice's Review: I Am The Messenger

I Am the MessengerSummary:   Nineteen-year-old cabbie Ed Kennedy has little in life to be proud of: his dad died of alcoholism, and he and his mom have few prospects for success. He has little to do except share a run-down apartment with his faithful yet smelly dog, drive his taxi, and play cards and drink with his amiable yet similarly washed-up friends. Then, after he stops a bank robbery, Ed begins receiving anonymous messages marked in code on playing cards in the mail, and almost immediately his life begins to swerve off its beaten-down path. Usually the messages instruct him to be at a certain address at a certain time. So with nothing to lose, Ed embarks on a series of missions as random as a toss of dice: sometimes daredevil, sometimes heartwarmingly safe. He rescues a woman from nightly rape by her husband. He brings a congregation to an abandoned parish. The ease with which he achieves results vacillates between facile and dangerous, and Ed's search for meaning drives him to complete every task. But the true driving force behind the novel itself is readers' knowledge that behind every turn looms the unknown presence - either good or evil - of the person or persons sending the messages. Zusak's characters, styling, and conversations are believably unpretentious, well conceived, and appropriately raw. Together, these key elements fuse into an enigmatically dark, almost film-noir atmosphere where unknowingly lost Ed Kennedy stumbles onto a mystery - or series of mysteries - that could very well make or break his life. - School Library Journal

Review:   Let me start by giving you a little background before I jump into my review. Last month, I went a little online book shopping crazy.  One of the books I picked up was critically acclaimed  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I thought since The Book Thief received such great reviews, I wanted to try something else by the author.  I picked this one up too, and man, am I glad I did.

I Am The Messenger stars Ed Kennedy as a young man with no future, he barely even has a present.  He's a nineteen year old card-playing cab driver who is a bit of a smartalec with no real career, no respect in the community, no great love, well, nothing much at all.  He constantly asks himself "Well Ed - what have you really achieved in your nineteen years?"  He can't come up with anything either.  That's all about to change for him when for some reason he'll "never understand," he thwarts a bank robbery.  And that's when the cards start coming.   First the message is obvious, an address and time written on the card.  Then they start to get a little tricky, riddles he has to solve in order to deliver his messages.  Sometimes his messages are as easy as an delivery ice cream to as difficult as taking a human life.  But he does them, he doesn't know why but he keeps at it until the end.

This has to be one of the best Young Adult novels I've read in a long time.  The best way to describe this novel is that it's a coming of age story.  It's dark, suspenseful and laugh-out-loud funny.  Mr. Zusak does an incredible job of delivering realistic characters.  I know Ed, I've met him before.  He is in my Godson David, he's in every kid who had no idea what to do with their life, who starts a journey and finds their way.  I love how Ed refers to himself as "less than ordinary," when we know he is anything but.  I couldn't put this book down because I wanted to know what he would do next. I loved how the answers just came to him, how they were there all along but it was his growing confidence in himself that revealed them. I loved the relationship he had with his friends, and then with the people he helps.  My favorites are Sophie the barefoot runner and proud family man Lua Tatupu. 

I think even though this novel is written for our younger readers, it's a story that can be enjoyed by all.  I liked it, I really did and I look forward to seeing what else Mr. Zusak has up his literary sleeve.  He does a great job of delivering fantastic kernels of goodness.  I will leave you with this one:  "It's impeccable how brutal the truth can be at times.  You can only admire it."

Final Take: 4/5



Jenn September 19, 2010 at 11:00 AM  

Sounds like I need to add this to the TBR pile!

Julie P September 19, 2010 at 12:10 PM  

This sounds good--I am adding it to my wish list. Great review!

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