The Messenger

It’s taking me a little longer than I expected to finish Markus Zusak’s I am The Messenger.  I thought I would be able to breeze through it during the weekend, but the copy I have has around 350 pages, and it takes me a while to read something that long.  The book is easy enough to read; I just haven’t been reading as much these days due to other random activities.

Because of the seemingly mature content of the book at times, I find myself constantly turning back to the copyright page to make sure that it really is a “children’s book.”  The protagonist, Ed, a 19-year-old waste of space – a term, I’m sure, he would readily use to describe himself, often indulges in sexual thoughts about Audrey, his so-called best friend; and his choice of vocabulary isn’t what I would call appropriate for “children’s  book” readers.  Likewise, some of the topics presented in the book are also somewhat on the mature side.

The book, essentially, is a “mystery” novel.  After unintentionally stopping a bank robbery, Ed finds himself the recipient of mysterious messages written on playing cards,  telling him to complete certain tasks, which, more often than not, includes him getting hurt physically. Ed, trying hopelessly to find meaning in his existence, does what he is told, and meets some very interesting, albeit not always friendly, people along the way.

So far I am the Messenger is an engaging read.  The book is divided into four parts which correspond to the four aces in a deck of cards.  In each ace, sent mysteriously to Ed, is written the task he has to complete.  The messages are usually cryptic and the clues get harder and harder as Ed goes through the four aces.  The tasks Ed performs throughout the book are more for himself than it is for the people he helps.  By changing other peoples’ lives, he is, ultimately, changing his own.

Ed talks directly to the readers as he narrates the events of the book, and his life, in a very casual, laidback, uninhibited way.  Obviously, readers will want to know who is sending Ed the cryptic messages, manipulating him to perform certain tasks.  It’s is, for me, the main pull of the book.

As I near the end of the book, my greatest fear is that the mysterious manipulators  will turn out to be some sketchy supernatural forces like god or destiny or fate, which he can’t escape and has no control over.

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