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on December 5, 2006
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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on August 29, 2008
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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on June 24, 2013
Australian author Markus Zusak, best well known for his New York Times Best seller, The Book Thief, wrote I Am The Messenger beforeThe Book Thief came out. This book is full of quirky, sweet, loveable, terrible pasionate and just plain funny characters. although this book was written for the young adult reader, I found it to be enjoyable did all of my other 30 something friends and my 60 year old father! this book takes you on a life changing journey with character Ed Kennedy. Ed is just a regular 19 year old nobodywho discovers, with a little help from mysterious sources, that life can be full of beauty, hope, violence, simple joys and caring. you will find out how it's done in I Am The Messenger. I love this book so much I have listened to it on audible and bought three copies from Amazon. 2 copies were for friends who are a little bit like Ed. Enjoy the book!
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on June 29, 2016
I loved The Book Thief, but I loved I this one MORE. Ed Kennedy is your average, twenty year old kid driving a taxi, with no particular ambition or goals. His friends are just like him. They all live in the poor section of the same small town where they grew up.

During a failed bank robbery, with the friends as hostages, something miraculous happens. Ed chases the robber and apprehends him, becoming a local hero. That's when he starts receiving playing cards in the mail, with cryptic messages.

Is Ed Kennedy forced into being the patron saint of his hometown, or is something else going on?

You will have to read the book to find out - but what a joy that is.

An effortless way to learn the best truths in life. Give it to your teens and twenty something's. Hell, give it to everyone.
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on June 30, 2016
Whether the author intended this book to be a realistic novel where the plot actually could occur, a pure fantasy of events, an allegory of the growth towards adulthood or the mere wanderings of a nineteen year old teenager’s mind matters very little. For the message remains the same; we receive back from life that which we put into it, if we give little, we receive little and what we give to others we actually give to ourselves . No, this is not a book that have flowery descriptions nor is it one that explores our spirituality nor professionalism. It simply examines life for what it is; a scary and demanding place in which we either define who we are or waste our lives slovenly living it through with a mundane future bleakly lying ahead of us.

While “The Book Thief” received the accolades that it richly deserved, so, too, should this novel be recognized for what it is; a book with deep and profound meaning. The author, while hoping to have a young adult learn from its contents, the novel is, likewise, meant for all of us. When we are faced with a challenge do we have a tendency to do the ‘easy thing’? Or do we, like our protagonist, attempt the hardest and most onerous action? For only then can we expect ourselves to grow and to understand those who are around us. Only then can we retire each night and say, quite honestly, I gave today all I had to give.

In our data-filled and confusing world have we become overwhelmed with mere survival and/or the constant repetition of daily tasks or have we spent the time to come to deeply know ourselves? We can never know our limitations until we have attempted to exceed them. We can never truly define who we are unless all options are acted upon. Let us not only become the messenger that is carried to others, but let us become the message and the role model for others to follow.................
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on April 11, 2016
This is my first time to read a Zusak book. I really like the effortless writing style, and it was a quick read. The beginning took off well, lagged a bit in the middle, and then did disappoint me at the end- it just felt rushed. To me, this book was just ok. I liked the protagonist but not sure I would try another Zusak novel.
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on July 3, 2016
I was surprised. I bought the book accidently, read the first chapter, decided I didn't like the style of writing, but wanted to know what happened next. By the third chapter I became accustomed to the writing style and just kept reading. As the book progressed I laughed, I cried -- I went through a lot of emotions, and felt better for it. I found myself really caring about the 4 street kids (not kids really, but young adults.) Even "minor" characters were wonderfully drawn into the story. This is definitely not just a children's book -- I wish it had been around when I taught 9th grade English. It's a book kids will understand and be able to read, and grown ups will find themselves thinking about a lot of things, big things, small things, things one could, should, might do or have done differently. It's a book that needs to be talked about in a book club, a classroom,and a church.. I've never thought about advising a church reading group to read something like this -- but yes, it belongs there too! Read it. Now.
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on May 16, 2016
Nice to have a story with a positive message. Would recommend for late tweens and teens on up (I'm several decades past my teens...). I'd read Zusak's "The Book Thief" years ago, before the movie, and was moved by it. Very impressive story telling that made me think about it for days afterward. This is not of that level of accomplishment -- and the topic and setting are completely different, dramatically less oppressive -- but I knew I'd be getting something worth reading in "The Messenger" simply because of Zusak.
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on May 31, 2016
This was a very good read until about five pages from the end when the answer to the mystery is revealed. The ending was rushed, not in the least believable. It's as though the author just threw something out there so that he could be done with it. On a positive note, the characters, including the dog, were well developed and the plot itself was well put together. But because of the utterly ridiculous ending, this book gets a 3.
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on June 27, 2016
This book was hard to rate. I liked the basic premise of the book: getting joy/ satisfaction out of serving others. The writing was good and the character development was satisfying. However, there was too much harsh language for what the book required and the ending was forced, trite and not believable leaving me feeling a little created at the end.
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