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I Am the Messenger Hardcover – February 8, 2005


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I Am the Messenger + The Book Thief + The Fault in Our Stars
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (February 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375830995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375830990
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (664 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up - 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. - Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 9-12. Ed is a 19-year-old loser only marginally connected to the world; he's the son that not even his mother loves. But his life begins to change after he acts heroically during a robbery. Perhaps it's the notoriety he receives that leads to his receiving playing cards in the mail. Ed instinctively understands that the scrawled words on the aces are clues to be followed, which lead him to people he will help (including some he'll have to hurt first). But as much as he changes those who come into his life, he changes himself more. Two particular elements will keep readers enthralled: the panoply of characters who stream in and out of the story, and the mystery of the person sending Ed on the life-altering missions. Concerning the former, Zusak succeeds brilliantly. Ed's voice is assured and unmistakeable, and other characters, although seen through Ed's eyes, are realistically and memorably evoked (readers will almost smell Ed's odoriferous dog when it ambles across the pages). As for the ending, however, Zusak is too clever by half. He offers too few nuts-and-bolts details before wrapping things up with an unexpected, somewhat unsatisfying recasting of the narrative. Happily, that doesn't diminish the life-affirming intricacies that come before. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Markus Zusak has a very interesting writing style.
Andrea H. Burke
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was one of the best books that I read this year, so I purchased I Am the Messenger to discover if Zusak is the real deal.
Cynthia K. Robertson
I feel like the book just dies at the end and it was really disappointing after a great story.
Holly Popkin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

139 of 146 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Markus Zusak might be my favorite author now, and I've read a lot of books by a lot of authors. I have not, however, read three books of such magnitude by the same author. Upon completing GETTING THE GIRL, THE BOOK THIEF, and now I AM THE MESSENGER, I sit back in awe at the mastery of the writing, the power of the message, the truth of such stories.

Winner of the 2003 Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year Award and nominated for best young adult book at the 2006 L.A. Times Festival of Books, I AM THE MESSENGER (or THE MESSENGER in Australia) tells the story of Ed Kennedy, nineteen-year-old taxi cab driver and all-around average guy. In fact, he's the epitome of average -- faithful friends, stinky dog, dead-end job, and girl who loves someone else.

That's why it's such a big deal for Ed, Marv, and Ritchie to get trapped in a bank during a stickup. One of the thieves gets spooked, drops his gun, and somehow Ed ends up with the weapon and the town's praise. That might be a winning hand for Ed if he doesn't receive the first mysterious playing card, the Ace of Diamonds in his mailbox. It's a card with a message for him to deliver. Or else.

Messages like Ed's will change a person, if he or she lets them. That's the beauty of Zusak's story. Ed discovers the changing power in simple, personalized messages of love, even if they're ones he's forced to deliver. While I could imagine a cynical reader calling Ed's 12 messages a tad forced, I would differ with them on every case. Ed's stories are simple proof that if a "guy like him can stand up and do what he did, then maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of."

-- Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Gretchen L on July 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought this book recently on a serendipitous bookstore trip during a family reunion in Colorado. It is most definately worthy of the multiple starred reviews it has received. Ed Kennedy, a 19-year-old with no forseeable future, is extremely likeable and readable. His life takes a sharp turn for the positive when he receives the first card in the mail-an ace with three addresses and times. It suddenly becomes clear that these people need his help, whether in large ways or small acts of kindness. Three more aces follow, and thus embarks Ed's adventure to help other people, and naturally in the end help himself. His friends are very realistic and their issues are almost as compelling as Ed's. There is a bit of romance, but it doesn't overpower the rest of the book-it's a very nice balance. Family challenges are a major theme here, as is learning your true potential. I would recommend it to teens over the age of 15 (some swearing and violence), but it is more than adult-friendly, and interesting enough to be a page turner for all ages, and the price is unbeatable as well. All I have to say thank heavens for spontaneous trips and books like this!
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101 of 123 people found the following review helpful By J. Welch on April 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ok, this was a nice book. Interesting (albeit quite unbelievable) premises and a quite readable writing style keep it moving along nicely. I thought about the book every day after I had read parts of it, and looked forward to reading more. BUT then I got to the ending... It's not a BAD ending, just a puzzling and completely improbable ending--one that made me suddenly feel like I had just wasted a bunch of time reading the book. Did the author just get to the end of the book and realize he didn't have an ending, and quickly make something up? Or maybe he actually meant to end it that way. Whatever the case, I don't want to spoil the plot for people, but I'll just say that the identity of someone in question throughout the book turns out to be someone completely out of the blue, and it just doesn't fit the facts and plotline of the book very well.

Oh, well. Obviously many people have enjoyed the book, and I did as well, but the tacked-on ending just left me unsatisfied and disgruntled.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By New in VT on August 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Markus is an immensely talented guy - I flipped over every page where he described something with such clever beauty that actually caught my breath while reading it. As result, my copy has so many bent pages it looks like it lost a fight with a rabid cat. This man is a unique author who can capture many fringe emotions (poignancy, heartburn, shame) that most authors ignore because they lack the talent to adequately describe them.

Is the story particularly gripping? No.

Is the pacing appropriate? No. There are many scenes that seemed irrelevant. In fact I once read that a "tight story" is one where no scene or character could be removed without the whole thing falling apart. This is not a tight story.

Is the ending satisfying? Sort of. Yes. No. Although I give him credit for balls. The ending is a ballsy cop out.

I also wonder why this is classified as a young adult novel. If "young" means that most of the main characters are "young" and they are struggling to find their way in the world, then yes it is properly classified. However the reality is that this is a fairly adult book and I wonder what criteria the editor ultimately used to put it in the YA category. The heavy emphasis on alcohol and sex (even rape) seems a bit ragged for the generally softer category of YA. Does this book fit in with the Twillight series? I don't think so....

However I don't want my review to sound as negative as I fear it does. This is a fascinating work by a talented individual. Keep an eye on him, I think he has great work in him.
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