26 June 2006
Book Banter -- I am the Messenger
Title: I am the Messenger
Author: Markus Zusak
Length: 357 pages
Plot Basics: Ed Kennedy is a 19-year-old cab driver with no prospects. His life revolves around driving the cab, playing cards with his mates, caring for his dog and wishing he could tell Audrey just how he feels about her. And then, he helps foil a bank robbery becoming somewhat of a local hero. After the robbery, Ed receives the Ace of Diamonds with three addresses written on it, setting off a string of things he has to do and messages he has to communicate to people, all from vague hints given on the playing cards.
Banter Points: Zusak does everything right. His main character's point of view is believable. His supporting character (especially the dog, The Doorman) are brilliant. Zusak wrote the book in present tense which gave the story the sense of immediacy that it needed. Moreover, Zusak's protagonist, Ed, has such crystal clear insights into life. (Also, Zusak got bonus points with the Word Nerd because one of her favorite authors, Graham Greene, gets a big mention in the book.)
This book won the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. (It was published in Austalia as "The Messenger."0
Bummer Points: At first Word Nerd didn't like the ending... it felt too deus ex machina for a plot that so far had been quirky, intense and wonderful. Word Nerd changed her mind after further consideration, but some readers may find the ending diasppointing.
Word Nerd recommendation: This book is shelved as YA, but it's YA for older young adults, like 10th-grade and up. It's pretty dark at parts and has an intense emotional grip on a reader. Adults should not pass this one by just because it's labeled YA.