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I Am the Messenger
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on February 11, 2017
I recently read John Grisham's The Racketeer. It was a very fun book; and if you're looking for some brain bubblegum, then I recommend it. And when I was done, I went looking for another fun book. The recommendation that I found was I Am The Messenger. It turned out to be the fun that I was looking for. I wasn't prepared, though, for just how much more than fun this book would be.

> "Why me?" I ask God. God says nothing. I laugh, and the stars watch. It's good to be alive.

The author was obviously influenced by Catcher in the Rye. The protagonist of the story is an anti-hero with seemingly mediocre mental resources and ambition. He has a similar lack of responsibility towards money, and also seeks love from an apparently average sort of woman.

> It makes me look deeper into the street, trying to find the future events in store. I'm happy.

The author uses the lyrical technique of having the story progress with a mysterious list. Much like And Then There Were None or Atlas Shrugged, a list appears without an obvious purpose, and the protagonist's adventure is to proceed through this list. And like Catcher in the Rye, we watch the protagonist's character grow as he proceeds through the adventure.

> I didn't know that words could be so heavy.

All of the above is extremely fun, and would have satisfied exactly what I was looking for. But then there's the "more." The author is able to interweave lyrical prose into his colloquial speech. Like a droplet of watercolor crashing into a glass of clean water, these moments of poetry bring extreme beauty to an otherwise simple appearance.

> This isn't about words. It's about glowing lights and small things that are big.

And then there's more beyond that. We find that through the character's growth, his mental faculties become stronger than we had thought. In the most believable and common way, he demonstrates cleverness. And then, like The Things They Carried, the reader can begin to wonder whether this is a story at all. Is this a book, or a letter, or something else?

> I want words at my funeral. But I guess that means you need life in your life.

I'm being purposefully vague. I worry that I've already revealed too much. In my life, I've come to realize that competence is unusual. Most people seem to stumble through life with the goal of minimal effort. Competence is so unusual that I celebrate it. In those rarest of occasions, I get to interact with something more than competence: excellence. I Am Messenger is one of those experiences. I hope that I get to meet Markus Zusak (the author) someday; I'd like to give him a hug.

> When the job's done, he smacks me on the shoulder and we run off like handsome thieves. We both laugh and run, and the moment is so thick around me that I feel like dropping into it to let it carry me. I love the laughter of this night. Our footsteps run, and I don't want them to end. I want to run and laugh and feel like this forever. I want to avoid any awkward moment when the realness of reality sticks its fork into our flesh, leaving us standing there, together. I want to stay here, in this moment, and never go to other places, where we don't know what to say or what to do. For now, just let us run. We run straight through the laughter of the night.
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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 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 12, 2017
There were a few times that I wondered what this was about, and why was I reading it, but I kept turning the pages because I fell in love with the protagonist. You will be rooting for Ed. He's just a guy. Just a young man struggling to make sense of it all, and yet he is so amazing. I can't say anything more without giving away the ending. Just read it. There's a lovely message within every page. I would expect nothing more from the author of "The Book Thief". Markus Szusak, you are my author hero.
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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 March 6, 2016
Wow. I read The Book Thief a few months ago, and the powerful storytelling of Zusak has remained with me, which nudged me to try another one of his books. I am typically not particularly drawn to young adult novels; however, there are a handful of authors who have made me reconsider the entire genre: John Green, J.K. Rowling (alright, I am admittedly a bit of a "Potterhead"), and now Markus Zusak. The novel is brilliantly written. The prose is eloquent and descriptive and the characters feel real and relatable. I absolutely love the message of the story (get it? The MESSAGE?!?). Ok. I'm a dork. Still, this was the type of book that had me fighting sleep to squeeze in another chapter. I finished it in about a day because when I wasn't actually READING about Ed and his friends, I was THINKING about them.
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on January 12, 2016
<b>Review also found on <a href="https://booksncalm.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/i-am-the-messenger/">Books N' Calm</a></b>
This book was great. I didn’t go into expecting much. I thought it would be a heavy/dark book like The Book Thief. But it wasn’t as dark/heavy. It was mostly light but towards the end it got a bit heavy. The book was funny and touching. It was light and at the same time kind of philosophical.

I was a bit confused about the setting of the book. The swearing and some of the words made it seem like it was set in England (and the audiobook said rugby while the book said soccer). And I’m pretty sure the book said it was set in New York. Maybe I made that up. IDK.

On a bit of a side note, the audio book reader is kinda boring (I used the audio book along with reading because sometimes I had a song stuck in my head which distracted me from reading and the audio book helped me focus on the story). So my suggestion would be just read the book.

The ending was kind of confusing. I liked it but I was left wondering who was leaving the messages. I found the answer in the Goodreads FAQ part of the book though.

The book really reminds me of a book/movie called The Gift. I don’t remember the author. In the book, the main character’s great uncle dies. In the great uncle’s will, all his family members get small portions of his wealth but he leaves all his money to the main character, a spoiled young man. But there’s a condition, the main character has to go through all these challenges with a bunch of limitations (like he has a really small monthly allowance and can only live off of that allowance money). The main character does all the challenges and ends up a better man. Ed kind of does the same sort of thing with the cards.
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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 January 4, 2015
I don't give very many books 5 stars but this one is about as shiny as they get.

If you're jaded and cynical, or you aren't moved easily by acts of kindness or people being heroic, you probably won't like it.

But I sure did. I'm an idealist, a sensitive guy. I love a good love story and seeing people rise above themselves or their circumstances. I love a good zero to hero story.

Several times, at least 4 or 5, I had to stop for a few seconds just to collect myself. I haven't read a book this touching or moving in years. Maybe never. It wasn't sad and tragic, it was hope, beauty and light. It had suspense, tension, and a bit of darkness, but ultimately it was a thing of beauty.

I couldn't put it down, only stopping to stretch, use the bathroom, eat, or the aforementioned collecting myself. Amazing, absolutely amazing! I've read a couple hundred books in my lifetime, give or take, but this is definitely one of the best. I was pretty surprised actually, but there it is
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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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