Sunday, November 16, 2014

Book Review: I Am The Messenger- Markus Zusak

I loved The Book Thief so much that I decided I should read some of Zusak's other books.  It took me a while to get to it, but the only other one that I could find on audio was an older book I Am The Messenger.  The style, setting, and genre is very different than The Book Thief, but it is still very good.  It is obvious that Zusak has become a better writer, because this book lacked the metaphors that I loved so much from The Book Thief.  The book is a little hard to follow at first until you figure out the pattern, but then eventually follows the pattern so well that it almost becomes predictable.
The book opens on a robbery in progress in a bank with what we find out shortly later is the main character and his three close friends on the floor cracking jokes and harassing the inexperienced robber.   The jokes told in this scene and the robber's nervous man trying to be tough responses drew me right in.  The biggest disappointment was to find that the robber would not be a major character throughout the story, although he threatens during the trial to come back when he gets out of jail.  I also have to add here that the reader of the audiobook, Marc Aden Gray, did a stellar job bringing the characters to life.
The main character, Ed Kennedy, happened to help foil the robbery and this thrust him onto a hero's path that he never intended.  He receives a card in the mail, an Ace with three addresses written on it.  He then has to go to those addresses and figure out how to help the person or people that are there.  Throughout he wrestles with whether he should complete the tasks, how to complete them, who is sending him on these mysterious missions, and why.  Meanwhile, life does not come to a halt and he has his dysfunctional extended family to deal with, his friends and acquaintances to live life with, a girl who has him stuck in the "friend-zone", and an aging dog who is the best companion in the world.  Honestly, one of my favorite parts about the book was the way Ed talked to his dog and how Ed talked back [or thought back] to himself for his dog.  This didn't happen in a crazy way, or an animals behave like people way, but simply in the way a loving owner speaks for their beloved pets so many times, it just happens that Ed gave his dog a great sense of humor and of responsibility.  Despite having friends and a life Ed doesn't confide about his cards and his escapades to many people.  The chapters are named for other cards in the suit that go with the ace Ed got, by the time the King comes around he's helped the people on his list and a new card arrives sending him on more missions.
Although, the naming of the chapters kind of made the books a little predictable, I was still surprised by how Ed got himself out of many predicaments, helping people where it seemed the help needed was too great.  And he didn't just help people he developed relationships with them.  Although I disagree with the pastor that he helped that Ed is somehow a saint or an angel who lives outside of religion, I did like the book and the "do good for others" message it had.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book by Zusak and hope to read more by him soon.

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