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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 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 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 March 11, 2016
I read somewhere that there was humor in this book, but they lied. I didn't find it funny, although it starts out rather quirky. It's intense at times -- like 'what's around that dark corner' intense. I could not put this book down. And after finishing it, I still have it on my brain -- turning the story this way and that -- to fully get the meaning. It's a story within a story ... sort of. But that's a complement, really. I would recommend the book to most readers. The author is terrific ... I love his books. This is a story I will want to read again in the future, it deserves a second time through. Fun and puzzling, it's a great book!
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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 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 17, 2014
This was very good, really enjoyed reading it. The only issue I had was the authors writing style, it felt like there was no setup between scenes, all of a sudden something was happening and you didn't know when or where it was until you read a little farther on. Once I got used to the writing it didn't bother me anymore, and the story was so engrossing that there was no way I could have stopped reading it.

The book follows Ed, a 19 year old taxi driver who is going nowhere in life until one day he stops a bank robbery. Someone recognizes something in Ed and starts sending him these "messages" in the form of playing cards. Each playing card has three messages, and each message is, most the time it's helping someone in some way. Some are more dangerous then others, and for some reason he feels compelled to complete them.

It was a very good book with a lot of warm heartfelt moments watching man kind help one another, most the time it's just little things, but sometimes it's the little things that are noticed that end up meaning more to people.
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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 May 28, 2014
For me, this story was somewhat slow getting started, but I understood why by the time I finished. Throughout much of his life, 17 or 19 year old Ed Kennedy drifted along. He enjoyed reading and thinking, and had a sense of ironic humor, but little ambition, no father, and treated poorly by his mother. He drove a cab and hung out with his childhood friends from the poor side of town. Suddenly he began receiving mysterious messages from who knows where. They required that he decipher different missions: what, where how, and to whom various things should be done - often physical challenges - some pleasant, some very unpleasant. Life became more challenging and interesting for him. In the end, Ed discovered more about himself and who he might to be and become. I would give this book 4 ½ stars if I could. As the story line develops, it grew on me whereas Zusak's The Book Thief involved me almost immediately. This book is subtler and worth hanging in there. It grew on me.
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