I Am the Messenger – Markus Zusak

I Am the Messenger(Also known as just “The Messenger” in… Australia? I think so.)

I hate Markus Zusak. Want to know why?

Because he is so so so so so talented, to the point where it is so annoying with how much talent he has, compared to the rest of us. He can write books and characters and dialogue and description and plot to utter perfection. He already proved that to me once in The Book Thief, and now he’s done it again.

I thought that maybe his other books might not live up to the legend that is The Book Thief, since… well…

Yanni is going to kill me for saying this, but I think it’s probably my favourite book in the entire world.

Anyway. I Am the Messenger does not disappoint. It’s beautiful and thoughtful and funny and everything you would expect from Markus Zusak.

Summary

Ed is a normal 19 year old who feels like he’s getting nowhere in life. After he accidently stops a bank robbery, he starts receiving cards in the mail, and becomes the messenger.

Cons

I don’t know if I have any.

Do I really have anything bad to say about an amazing book?

Oh!

I wanted to find out more about Alice the prostitute. I was interested in her, and then she disappeared :(. I guess that does make it more realistic and so on but I missed her.

Also…

Some people might not like this book. It’s got mentions of rape, sex, a ton of swearing… So yeah, if you’re really young or hate that type of stuff, maybe wait a bit before you read it. To the rest of you, what are you waiting for?

And Finally…

I took me half the book before I realised that the yellow thing on the cover was a taxi cab. Because I’m an idiot.

Pros

So. Many. Pros.

Plot

So simple, yet so awesome. Ed starts receiving cards in the mail. He has to deliver messages. Easy, right? What I loved about this was that it was such a simple premise. But everything, big or small, had such a massive impact on the reader.

Want to know when I cried? Because I admit it, I did cry. Not full on weeping, but getting tears forming in my eyes. When Ed visits Edgar Street and meets Angelina outside. The combination of beautiful writing, anticipation, and the sad and lonely situation, just made me so broken up. I can’t describe to you how beautiful Markus Zusak’s writing can be. How elegant and vivid he can make the scenes, his writing is simple and complex at the same time.

  • I don’t move because my cowardice tramples me, even as I try to lift my spirit from its knees. It only keels over. It sways off to the side and hits the earth with a silent, beaten thud. It looks up at the stars. They’re stars that dribble across the sky.

I want to add the entire scene, the entire book. I won’t, don’t worry. You have to read it for yourself.

The other time I could feel myself getting emotional is the scene with Marv at the end. If you’ve read it, you know which scene I’m taking about. The one that brought a smile to your face as you read it.

And by the end you feel so… I don’t even now how to explain it. The book feels so intense with the amount of emotion it brings through people. Seeing how tiny acts of kindness can bring out so much joy. There’s an overwhelming sense of the best and worst of humanity, all bundled into this book.

Characters

Were all so human. So realistically flawed, but still redeeming in their own way.

You know how a lot of YA novels (like hush, hush) all have those characters, that are supposed to be so perfect and nice and funny and clever, so that you route for them, but most of the time you end up either hating their guts, or getting very, very bored? This is not one of them. Think of Nora from hush, hush. She is supposed to be a beautiful, clever, charming, funny character, as we are told through the book. She is not supposed to have any flaws which, ironically, is what makes her a flawed character. She’s supposed to be so perfect that we start seeing how unrealistic she is. How she is unbelievably stupid, unkind to her friends, a pushover…  She starts to not become perfect at all, but a character that we can never relate to.

Everyone in this book, however, has flaws. But because they have flaws, we can see them as real people. And they’re redeeming qualities shine through, making us love them when we’re supposed to, and hate them when we’re supposed to.

Take Ed Kennedy. He never went to university. He’s breaking the law by being an underage cab driver. He failed at school. He’s terrible with girls. He’s hopelessly in love with his best friend, but doesn’t have the courage to tell her. He has no self confidence. He can come off as weird and rude to other people, curses a lot, and is generally a smart ass (his words, not mine). He sees a woman being raped, but is to much of a coward to save her, and tries to delude himself into thinking that it’ll get better when he knows it won’t.

But we can see all the good qualities about him. We empathise with him. He’s kind, clever, self-sacrificing, loyal, and whenever he does something bad, it tears him up inside. Instead of ignoring his flaws, we can see that his good qualities outweigh his bad ones. He is believable, and we become more attached to him. We understand him, because we can relate to him. And that is what makes him a perfect character. Because he’s not perfect at all.

Sorry. Rant over.

But yes, I loved the characters.

Writing Style

GORGEOUS. BEAUTIFUL. AMAZING.

What else did you expect?

Granted, I did like the writing in the Book Thief more, but it was published 3 years after I Am the Messenger, so Markus Zusak’s writing was developing. But seriously, comparing it to average YA fiction, it is the most gorgeous writing style out of them all.

  • His hands appear to be dripping on the wheel. The tears grip his face. They hold on and slide reluctantly for his throat.

It’s clever and strange and beautiful.

  • When her hands reached out and poured the tea, it was as if she also poured something into me while I sat there sweating in my cab. It was like she held a string and pulled on it just slightly to open me up. She got in, put a piece of herself inside me, and left again.

I’m not going to have any quotes left for the quotes section.

Oh well.

  • 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.

How can you not fall in love with this writing style? It’s impossible.

The End

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how much they hated the ending. It took me a while to figure out who was sending the cards, but when it was revealed, and I finally understood, I loved it. I know a lot of people felt cheated out of the ending, but I loved it. At first, I didn’t want to know who was sending the cards. I thought it was better that way, but when it was finally revealed, I loved it. It was kind of open ended, and kind of not.

I don’t think whoever was behind this was important. It’s not important why he was sending it, and what his intention was, it’s what Ed found that’s important. Showing how ordinary can use their kindness to make the extraordinary happen. Showing something that is so ugly, yet so beautiful. Showing everyone that they have the potential to be extraordinary.

Really, it doesn’t matter who sent the cards, just that they were sent. And that Ed found them. And he found that he does have meaning.

Quotes

Do I have any left? Of course.

  • 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.
  • My arms are killing me.
    I didn’t know words could be so heavy.
  • …and the night is so deep and dark that I wonder if the sun will ever come up.
  • “My heart applauds inside my ears, first like a roaring crowd, then slows and slows until it’s a solitary person, clapping with unbridled sarcasm.
    Clap. Clap.
    Clap.
    Well done, Ed.
    Well given up.
  • Crowds of questions stream through me like lines of people exiting a soccer ground or a concert. They push and shove and trip. Some make their way around. Some remain in their seats, waiting for their opportunity.

Overall

Markus Zusak seems to have a talent to show the best and worst of humanity. Show us how we can be so beautiful, yet so destructive all at once. He showed that in The Book Thief, and he shows us again. But through it all, he shows us that something so small, and seemingly insignificant, can amount to something bigger than yourself. That one act of kindness that amount to more than you’d think.

What do you think I’m going to give this? Because you can probably guess. 5 shuriken stars. 

PLEASE READ THIS PLEASE.

 

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6 responses to this post.

  1. I agree, I totally loved this book as well! I had to pick it up after reading The Book Thief. Funny thing is though, I don’t remember who sent the cards. You are right, it didn’t matter, only what Ed did with them.
    Wonderful review!

    Reply

  2. i loved this book.. i dont think the problem with the ending is that the man behind it all is vague. this problem is that the man who sent the cards was the author. zusak put himself into the book, but said that he wrote ed’s whole story. like he made it himself, he killed ed’s father, he told the man of edgar street to rape his wife. The reason i didn’t like the ending is because i like books to feel real, but with this ending, and the author directly confronting the main character about his control of everything that happened, nothing could possibly make sense ever again. its just upsetting for me that theres no clear resolution to wrap your mind around because the ending is completely impossible.

    Reply

    • oh, I knew who was sending the cards, I was just trying to keep it vague because my friend was reading it at the time and I didn’t want to spoil it for her.
      I guess I liked the whole mind-boggling meta element of it, because I like the reminder that books are just books, and being aware of the author’s presence in this particular book was cool, but I totally understand your point, and it’s just personal preference.
      As with the ending, Ed saying he’s not the messenger, but the message kind of goes along with Markus Zusak sending the cards. In actual fact, Ed’s not a person, he’s an example. I think that’s what he was trying to portray, that Ed shows us compassion, and that no antagonist is needed other than the world itself.
      That’s only my own interpretation, but, as John Green always says, “books belong to their readers,” so your own interpretation of it is the right interpretation for you.

      Reply

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