Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Am the Messenger Book Review (SPOILERS)

I recently read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, an Australian writer. I liked it enough that when I came across another book by him that was recommended by a friend, I read it.

I Am the Messenger is a mystery book of sorts. The main character, Ed, is a nineteen year old cab driver with no hope for a better future. He and his friends are all losers. The book starts with a bank robbery that Ed stops almost by dumb luck. After that, he starts getting mysterious playing cards in the mail that send him to addresses around the town. The people that live at these addresses have problems and Ed is tasked with fixing those problems. Along the way, he discovers himself and the power he has in life.

The book is written from Ed's point of view and it sometimes comes across as a bit heavy-handed. Sure, it's suppose to be noir-ish but the narrator's dialogue is extremely cheesy.

Some of the action is likewise odd. Ed watches a teenage girl run barefoot. He pretends to be an demented elderly woman's deceased husband. He buys a stranger an ice cream cone. He beats up a kid. He arranges a free beer day at a local church. And none of the other characters seem to think that any of this is odd in the slightest.

Perhaps the strangest thing about this book is that the big mystery man behind the cards is none other than... Markus Zusak, the author of the book! That's right - the author wrote himself into the book not only as a character but also as the author of the book. At one point, he tells Ed that HE, the author, is responsible for all of his troubles (killing his dad, sending thugs to beat him up, etc.).

Ultimately, this book becomes a bit repetitive with the playing cards. The author sticks literally to the mantra, "Protect the diamonds. Survive the clubs. Dig deep through the spades. Feel the hearts," which makes the book predictable at times. Also, the book is set in Australia but I thought it was set in England. I didn't figure it out until halfway through when they celebrate Christmas and it is warm outside still.

1LR Review: 9 out of 20 - It's a Miss.


  1. I'd have to say it took a bit for me to like this book. I actually enjoyed him getting the cards and my fave one was the family and the Christmas lights. Ok, just a touch of "feel good stuff," but I liked that. Also the barefoot runner's gift from Ed of the empty shoe box giving her the message to lose the shoes so she can win the race was a bit sentimental, too. Again these were little glimpses of hope for me that the book was heading in a good direction.
    Overall, if I wouldn't have been reading it for a book club discussion, never would have finished it. But I'm sort of glad I did (did I just say that?)

  2. Thanks for the comment. I've got to agree... the book wasn't a "downer" and the end did give the book a "complete" feel.