Friday, February 12, 2010

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Title: I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Pages: 357

How it was obtained: I bought it at Borders from their bargain bin. Sweet!

Time spent on the "to read" shelf: 1 year.

Days spent reading it: 2 days.

Why I read it: I enjoyed The Book Thief by Zusak, and I was interested in reading some of his other stuff.

Brief review: I really looked forward to this book because of how much I enjoyed The Book Thief. And while this book was alright, it was not nearly on par with the quality and insight that I know Zusak is capable of achieving. I Am the Messenger is about a young man named Ed who mysteriously receives a playing card in the mail one day with addresses on it. As the story progresses, Ed realizes he must go to these addresses and accomplish some task. 

The driving force of the book is Ed accomplishing these missions, which range from heart-warming to butt-kicking. It was a strange mix. The clear message of this book is that normal people can be extraordinary if they open their eyes and address the needs around them.

I had two problems with this book. First is the use of violence in this book. Ed uses violence to accomplish his goals. A mysterious "benefactor" uses violence against Ed to force Ed to act. It is like there are no other alternatives to violence in these scenarios. I think that is a dangerous message to put into a young adult novel. Second was the ending. I will not spoil it, but the concluding revelations at the end made the rest of the novel weaker. It was just not convincing to me. And unlike some endings, the very premise of this book hung on the ending.

I did enjoy I Am the Messenger, but I thought it could have been better. There are moments of wonderful writing and story-telling. The characters are believable and you are clearly invested in their lives by the end of the tale. With a stronger ending this book could have dazzled me, but instead it was just middle of the road.

Favorite quote:
She soon says, 'You're my best friend, Ed.'
'I know.'
You can kill a man with those words.
No gun.
No bullets.
Just words and a girl.

Stars: 3.5 out of 5.

Final Word: Average.

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