Hillary's Reviews > I Am the Messenger

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
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Dec 24, 2008

did not like it
Read in January, 2009

I wanted so badly to like this book because I liked the Book Thief so much, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t get past the constant swearing, the sweaty smelly characters, and the story line kept shifting back and forth from horribly bad to decent and the decent didn’t compensate for the horrific. . In the Book Thief the charm of the characters seemed to make up for their lack of poise and class, this book couldn’t pull that off.
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02/09/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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message 1: by Rachael (new)

Rachael I loved the Book Thief. Thanks for the review. I would have tried this one out. Now I know not to even give it a try. Thanks Hillary.



Amanda This book is so worth reading. I loved it and I loved "The Book Thief" as well. My teenage son and I both cried over this book whose message is, you can make a difference.


message 3: by Ashley (new)

Ashley I hate profanity, so thanks for mentioning the swearing in your review! You have saved me from getting really into a book only to have to put it down before finishing it.


message 4: by Jill (new) - rated it 1 star

Jill I was starting to think that I was the only one who felt this way! I tried to stick with this one...even made it to p. 30, but I just couldn't keep overlooking the constant profanity. Thanks for your review.


message 5: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen true, but the lack of poise may have been part of the point; that someone sweaty and smelly can still do something with his or her life. i don't think it was meant to be glamorous, but to be some inspiration to people who can see a little bit of ed kennedy in themselves.


Hillary Jen wrote: "true, but the lack of poise may have been part of the point; that someone sweaty and smelly can still do something with his or her life. i don't think it was meant to be glamorous, but to be some ..."

Good point Jen, I think the reason it bothered me so much was because I listened to it on my ipod. Maybe if I had read it I could have disassociated from it a little, but still you make an excellent point.


Hailey W. I COMPLETLEY agree!!! This is exactly what I said in my review of the book! You would think that because he wrote the book theif ( an amazing and heartfelt book) to this vulgar and very bad book.


Charlotte M. But looking at the setting of the majority of the book; swearing FITS. It's not the WHOLE book anyways, but the main character hasn't had the best luck himself, and has to see people going through very bad things. Definitely don't knock it until you try it. It's a short, easy read. Definitely makes me respect Markus Zusak for his ability to switch up what he writes about and invoke different emotions.


Hillary It wasn’t just the swearing that bothered me, it was the rape, it was the domestic violence, a man being held at gun point, and what good was on par with that? That is what I mean by the good didn’t compensate for the bad, overall the book just left me feeling bad. I understand a place for swearing, but generally I think it belongs in rap music.


Charlotte M. The rape was in place to give an opportunity for Ed to help someone, and eventually he did.


message 11: by Kelly (new) - rated it 1 star

Kelly Hetzel I could not agree more. I painstakingly made it to 130 pgs, trying desperately to like it. Like you, I LOVED The Book Thief. To be honest, I am the Messenger and Fighting Ruben Wolfe are just terrible, almost frustrating to read.


Hillary Kelly wrote: "I could not agree more. I painstakingly made it to 130 pgs, trying desperately to like it. Like you, I LOVED The Book Thief. To be honest, I am the Messenger and Fighting Ruben Wolfe are just te..."

Thank you, I cannot tell you how many rude, hostile, even explicit comments I have had on my book review. I have deleted them, they tell me I just didn’t know good literature when I see it, I don’t understand books, I am obviously not mature enough to handle this sort of topic and so on, so thank you for your opinion. I agree with you completely.


message 13: by Geej0e (new)

Geej0e I TOTALLY AGREE!


TimeyWimeyBooks Do you know there is a ton of swearing in The Book Thief? Or does it not count because it's in German? Just saying, I havent finished i am the messenger yet and dont know if I will like it.


message 15: by Geej0e (new)

Geej0e Yes but at least the swearing in GERMAN and not in British English. The Book Thief is WAY better. no competition. :D


TimeyWimeyBooks I'm halfway through and I must disagree. This book is equally beautiful and there is very little cursing (why that should matter in an amazing book is beyond me) he has to figure out what complete strangers need and how to help them. Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes it is difficult for Ed to figure it out. But he shows courage, love, compassion and the same beautiful writing style he showed in "The Book Thief".


message 17: by Geej0e (new)

Geej0e No WAY, the Book Thief is way cooler than I am the Messenger. AND more realistic..


message 18: by Geej0e (new)

Geej0e And the writing style is COMPLETELY different. The Book The Book Thief is beautiful; there are only some mediocre lines scattered through I am the Messenger.


message 19: by Tom (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tom O’Connell I respectfully disagree. The language is pretty mild and goes a lot of the way towards showcasing what class of people Ed and his friends are (which, as someone else put, is important because it emphasises the 'anyone can make a difference' theme).

The confronting stuff isn't very explicit. It's supposed to make you a little uncomfortable, that's how you know Zusak is doing his job correctly.

Every reader has his or her own sensitivities, so it's your prerogative to dislike this book, but I would implore the people in the comments who haven't read it yet to at least give it a chance. I had my own set of problems with it, but vulgarity definitely wasn't one of them. It has context and intent, and definitely isn't there for the sake of it or to offend. In fact, most of the characters are endearingly good-natured.

Each to their own, but I felt compelled to comment because dismissing a book based on its cast of lower-class deadbeats (who, as you say, lack poise) is kinda narrow-minded...


message 20: by Emma (new)

Emma I just read this post by Hillary and feel I really need to defend the book too. I agree that the language is colourful, but to discount a book based on swearing is probably not a fair way to judge any kind of literature. And here's a salient point that none of you have touched on, which indicates to me that you don't 'get' it, and that is, this book is quintessentially Australian. The language used, the characters, the class issues are so Australian and so truthfully depicted that I believe unless you are an Australian or have a really great understanding of Australian vernacular and cultural nuances, (which the majority of American's I've met, don't), than you are completely ill-equipped to fully appreciate the greatness of this novel.
Still, fair play to you Hillary, you don't have to like the book!


Hillary Emma wrote: "I just read this post by Hillary and feel I really need to defend the book too. I agree that the language is colourful, but to discount a book based on swearing is probably not a fair way to judge..."

Yes, all good points. I just didn't get it.


Anne-Marie I believe that the cursing and the violence were meant to add to the book, not take away. Unfortunately, things like that really do happen and they were in this book just to give us more clues to how Ed was feeling.


Hillary Anne-marie wrote: "I believe that the cursing and the violence were meant to add to the book, not take away. Unfortunately, things like that really do happen and they were in this book just to give us more clues to h..."

Yes, that is a very good point, I agree in a lot if cases, and it is how people talk.


Amanda Tom wrote: "I respectfully disagree. The language is pretty mild and goes a lot of the way towards showcasing what class of people Ed and his friends are (which, as someone else put, is important because it em..."

Well said.


Diane I felt like the swearing was excessive when I first started the book, and it put me off a bit as well. But the bad language lessens considerably as the story goes on. It gets SO good if you stick with it. I found so many parts very poignant and ended up absolutely loving it.


message 26: by Mina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mina K. Well, I feel like having "stinky sweaty" characters is different from having perfect, clean, and unrealistic ones. It's so truthful, you know? There are many people like that in the world who aren't as fortunate and we caN't just keep neglecting them by writing about the small percentage of people who ARE perfect and clean. And swearing just makes the book feel more realistic and relatable, I find. I respect yoir opinion though, no worries.

And what did you find horrific about the plot?


Winnie I believe this book was a great achievement, and an impulse to make us ponder our lifestyles and our impact to the people we meet everyday and the ones we know well. Swearing? Since when you judge someone's creativity on that? We live in a world where almost everyone swears, either constantly or occasionally. Jugding a book just because of that is very immature, and it does not makes any sense. This book aims for the betterment of human beings, and it makes a call for all of us to help others for the sheer pleasure of helping; that is beautiful. You are missing the whole point of the book. I loved The Book Thief, and I love I am the Messenger as well.


Amanda I loved it as I've already commented but you have every right to say that you don't. I thought that was the whole point of Goodreads. I love how people can have totally different views of a book.


message 29: by Melissa (new)

Melissa It's a bit odd how so many people are upset that Hillary didn't appreciate the swearing in the book. It's a book review! Some people don't want to read profanity when they curl up with a book... This review was helpful in that respect. Some people find that such language distracts from the storyline... no matter how appealing or inspiring the plot may be. Now, unaware readers know... and can decide for themselves whether to spend their money & give it a chance or not. She didn't say Zusak was a horrible author... Just that she wasn't fond of this book due to X, Y, and Z. Thanks Hillary!


Betty Loved the book thief. This one not so much.


Leigh This review is frustrating to me because it is turning people away from a book that I adored. I understand that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and if you think that having profanity in the book makes it deserving of such a low rating, then that's your own stance and you should stick with it.
My opinion is entirely different; while I despise hearing profanity, I do not mind reading it as it seems less vehement. As a result, I think that I can say that I enjoyed this book a great deal more than you did. The message of the novel is that even an underage cab driver from the slums, a teenager with a depressing past of poverty and no future, can make a positive difference in other people's lives. The characters are supposed to be "sweaty and smelly"; they are the lowest of the low. With the lifestyle and environment that the characters grew up in, you cannot expect them to act with elegance and dignity. They have resigned themselves to the fact that their lives are futile and meaningless and act accordingly. Why should they have dignity or class? The people that the book focuses on have no reason to believe that they can impact people. They are raised with the mindset that they will be born in and die in poverty. Their lives will be subject to the struggles of little money, alcohol, and sex. The beauty of the book is watching a character from this environment grow as he bypasses the boundaries of his class system and discovers that he can write his own story. If when you read you expect everyone to act like they have had the schooling of an eighteenth-century noblewoman, then you will miss multitudes.


message 32: by Lori (new) - added it

Lori Just reading through these comments, I'm surprised at how many have chosen an almost personal attack because Hillary doesn't care to read profanity. I don't enjoy it either but when it's not gratuitous, can usually overlook it. Hillary has stated that she was listening to the book rather than reading it, and that made it harder to overlook. She shouldn't have to defend herself over her personal preference. And yes, as someone stated earlier, everyone swears or comes into contact with swearing in their daily lives. That doesn't mean you have to welcome it into your home. Agree to disagree I guess. Hillary, I appreciate your mentioning of the profanity in your review. I can now decide if it's something I want to read and try to overlook. I will probably try to read this book because I loved The Book Thief so much, but it's nice to be forewarned.


Audrey Pavia "The Messenger" is nothing like "The Book Thief," but that doesn't mean it's not worth reading. It's very different in setting, characters and storyline, but both books share one thing: the incredible writing talent of Markus Zusak. I so love the way he writes. His characters, dialogue, descriptions, action--everything is brilliantly executed. If you appreciate great writing, read this book.


Cathy I agree, Hillary. I thought it was just me. I really don't think all the swearing is necessary. I'm
still reading the book and its drawing me in, but I have thought about, as I am reading through the book, taking a black magic market and crossing out all the swear words. I'll enjoy the book better.


Cathy What I was going to further say is I hate swearing. A few times I was going to stop reading because of all the swearing. After I have gotten further into the book, though, there isn't quite as much as at the beginning, at least where I'm at.


Cathy What I was going to further say is I hate swearing. A few times I was going to stop reading because of all the swearing. After I have gotten further into the book, though, there isn't quite as much as at the beginning, at least where I'm at.


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