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I Am the Messenger

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protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That's when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?

357 pages, Paperback

First published January 10, 2002

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About the author

Markus Zusak

43 books38.3k followers
Markus Zusak is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief , which spent more than a decade on the New York Times bestseller list, and is translated into more than forty languages – establishing Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia.

To date, Zusak has held the number one position at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, the New York Times bestseller list, as well as in countries across South America, Europe and Asia.

His books, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, When Dogs Cry (also titled Getting the Girl ), The Messenger (or I am the Messenger ) and The Book Thief have been awarded numerous honours ranging from literary prizes to readers choice awards to prizes voted on by booksellers.

Zusak’s much-anticipated new novel, Bridge of Clay , is set for release in October 2018 in the USA, the UK and Australia, with foreign translations to follow.

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5 stars
58,696 (37%)
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3 stars
28,889 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 15,595 reviews
Profile Image for Annalisa.
525 reviews1,350 followers
February 10, 2014
I can't seem to get enough Zusak. Once again his language is magic. Instead of falling into the "he (or she) said" pitfall, the dialogue takes on the action of the predominant emotion. If he wants to reach for a friend, the words reach. And the way he breaks his sentences to evoke emotional pauses is poetic. Plus it makes his stories delectably quick to read. The perfect combination of length and pause. But his prose is not even the most powerful thing about his writing. Zusak pulls the words lingering on the edge of your brain as if you'd written them yourself. In a way, his writing transcends language.

Here we have an ordinary 19-year-old taxi driver who is going nowhere with his life and has no plans to ever make something of himself either. When Ed inadvertently foils a bank robbery, he is praised as a local hero. Some people have it in them to make a stand, to be more than ordinary. That's when the assignments come. Written on the ace of diamonds are three addresses. Ed must figure out who is in need of help at these locations and what he can do to touch their lives.

As Ed engulfs himself into these strangers' lives he learns to care for them personally and insightfully discovers a message for them that will alter their lives. Sometimes the messages are easy to deliver, other times they require all he can muster to give. But always he finds the courage to follow through. And his answers are never what I would expect.

"There are countless saints who have nothing to do with church and almost no knowledge of God. But they say God walks with those people without them ever knowing it." As we follow Ed through his journey from "just another stupid person" to messenger, we see him grow emotionally as the assignments touch him deeper. In touching other people's lives he finds the purpose in his, his way of being great.

At one point he says he thought he was doing one of these people a favor but "I realize it's the opposite. I'm the privileged one." Is that not how it always is? We don't want to get involved with helping other people, even developing new friendships, because it require something from us. But what we fail to realize is what we get out of it is more than what we put in it. The effort to connect with people instead of drift through each other's lives is always worth it.

We are left with our own challenge. We find our own names on an ace and we can take this message as ours: that anyone, no matter how ordinary can be great, and put it to practice in our own lives. Or we can discard our aces and go back to going through the motions.
Profile Image for Basuhi.
32 reviews243 followers
October 1, 2013
4.5 Stars.

Hello There.

Maybe you're here because you've read the book and you loved it. You loved it so much that any review about it is a beacon of irresistible curiosity for you.

So much that you want to hold this book close to you, day and night.

And just think about the intricate enormity of it all.

Then, you're just like me.


Maybe you're here because you haven't read it and want to see if it's worth your time. In that case, let me be precise and say,
Go Read it.


Maybe you don't like this book. I can't even believe it's possible but well, what a pity.

Let me tell you a story.

The story of my enigmatic foray into Ed's world and the events that follow.

My Prologue : They say that Marcus Zusak is a brilliant storyteller who has a knack for mesmerizing readers into a trance with his words and his well-woven tale.

And they are right.

The book started in a way most books do and ended....that's better told later. Yep, It started dramatically, A bank robbery. Ed introduces himself to us readers and when he says,

“My full name’s Ed Kennedy. I’m nineteen. I’m an underage cabdriver. I’m typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city—not a whole lot of prospects or possibility. That aside, I read more books than I should, and I’m decidedly crap at sex and doing my taxes. Nice to meet you.”

I couldn't help but fall in love his brutal honesty a bit. Mostly when I meet male protagonists they are unabashedly meretricious and boastful about their sexual prowess. So it was nice to have someone different like Ed. But only later did I begin to realize how unique a protagonist Mr. Zusak had presented.

Initially, as the pages flew by, I started liking less and less of him.
I honestly admit that.
Because the premise was vague and he was getting very hyped up and the Ace made no sense whatsoever. ( If you don't know what I'm talking about, read the blurb. )

I couldn't understand him. And I was starting to fear that maybe I won't like the book after all. Reflecting now, I realize how frivolous that fear is. This book was destined to be a favorite of mine. It just was.

Ed's narrative was cogent enough but at times bordered on getting histrionic. Don't get me wrong, it was really enjoyable but it didn't look like a 19-year old guy speaking. It was like someone was writing a beautiful poem or something instead of a story at times. It confused me, unnerved me and rang like a déjà vu.

At that time I didn't know why.

But then I was reading another book, and like an epiphany, I realized it was because I do that a lot too.
I conjectured that maybe it's because he reads a lot of books. People who read a lot become naturally eloquent with their spiels.

I'm no good storyteller or even possess a modicum of empathetic writing skills but in some way, I'm just commenting on the writing style, I write like that. A bit.
But I do have a penchant for, maybe even a propensity to poetic litany, as may be evident from my raving reviews where all I do is prosaically ramble.

And then, when those boisterous words became my friends I was just swept off my feet. No looking back.

After understanding this and coming to terms with the mysterious instances of the story I was hooked in. Simply so awed by the sheer idea of it.

And I wanted nothing more than to know who was behind all this ?
Who ?
All the painstaking frenzy.
The rigmarole.

All this and one question,
Who ?
Why ?

And when I did get the answer much later, I wanted nothing but shout it out loud. Why ? Simple, because I felt like it.

Ed sees a plethora of quandaries and concerns, and along with him we see it with a shattering clarity which I must attribute to his perspicacity. Mental dejection and Physical abuse. Smothering solitude or inundating also-rans. Lost love and lost purposes and scabrous violence.

There is so much around us that happens.

The bad.
The worse.
The unjust.
The unrighteous.
The simply sad.

So much but do we spare a single second to think about them. We don't.
Because it's not our responsibility.
Because we have our problems to heed to without the burden of others.
Because we are selfish.

Ed is both the messenger and the message. But the book has a translucent plane of dubiety and one can interpret it in different ways.

"For me, it means that in our self centered existence we have forgotten the beauty of the happiness that blossoms when we see the genuine smile we have helped bring forth. And in that process we discover ourselves. Yes we, always do."

That moment of sheer unwonted joy was and still is unmistakably the favorite one of mine. It's like I can imagine the look on Ed's face.

Because that's what is on mine too.

The writing was good. There was a certain desperation in the words to be heard out, that threatened to become vociferous. It was irksome in the beginning but slowly became dearer and now, it is somehow etched on my mind.

And the ending.

So there was Scarlet, and I quote her verbatim, "pure unadulterated Zusak genius", she told me.

Truer words never spoken.

Rose said that it is a bit confusing, it takes time to sink in and when it does it haunts you.

She is just so right.

And Summer recommended it to me and told me that I'd love it.

And I did, didn't I ?

I think I'm procrastinating telling you about the ending because in all honesty, I don't know what to say.
It was,

BRILLIANCE, in all it's labyrinthine glory.
In all it's ardent verity.
And in all it's indelible beauty.

Well. Haven't I said enough ?
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.7k followers
May 12, 2019
i have always had a passionate love for the words of marcus zusak. he is my all time favourite author, without a doubt. his writing never fails to make me melt. but over time, that longing desire has transformed into a peaceful comfort. with each reread, it feels like i am coming home. and thats exactly how this book felt.

with an expert balance of humour, sentimentality, and hopefulness, this story is a work of art (side note: the first chapter of this book is the most spectacular chapter ever written in the history of chapters. i have probably read it over 100 times. its utter perfection). this story also has one of the most beautiful messages - how kindness can be life changing and how being kind can give a life purpose. the high quality writing lovingly explores this message through the heartwarming and heartbreaking life of ed kennedy, showing that sometimes people are not just the messenger but the message itself.

i will never not love a marcus zusak book, a marcus zusak story, marcus zusak writing. his words have become such a steady constant in my life and, for that, i am forever grateful.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,074 followers
January 1, 2020
"But you're far from this. Your fingers turn the strangeness of these pages that somehow connect my life to yours. Your eyes are safe. The story is just another few hundred pages of your mind. For me, it's here. It's now. I have to go through with this, considering the cost at every turn."

Bizarre ending, but a beautiful message. (See what I did there 😉)

I wanted to try another book by Zusak, to be able to see if The Book Thief was just a one off. I have a handwritten book list I made when I was younger, long before Goodreads and this was on it, so I gave it a go, and was thoroughly entertained!

Ed Kennedy is a nobody. An underage cab driver in a small town, he goes to work, plays cards with his friends Ritchie, Marv and Audrey, hangs out with his dog The Doorman; and this is his life.

Until he survives a bank robbery. Until he becomes an overnight hero. Suddenly Ed is receiving playing cards in the post with addresses on. The addresses of people who need a message, but what each message is; is something Ed needs to figure out himself. From a sweet old lady with dementia, to a local priest and his estranged brother. Ed visits a total of 12 homes, and has a different effect on each and every household. I loved following Ed, and the relationships he made with these people. Some of them had never experienced any form of kindness, and it was wonderful to see the impact 1 person can have.

All the while, Ed has no idea who is sending the cards, or why. A wonderful idea, but to me it was pretty strange.

The greatest part of this book for me lies in two parts. The first is Ed himself. He is a fantastic protagonist and so relatable - you can't help but root for him. The second part is the message itself, the power of kindness, that people can really make a difference.

This book was wholesome, and enjoyable, and absolute proof that Markus Zusak is an author to be reckoned with.

"Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are."
Profile Image for Maryam Rz..
220 reviews2,654 followers
June 30, 2021
(4.5 ★’s)

Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.

We’ve all been through it—that moment when you pick up a book cluelessly, your heart unaware of the misery ahead, and fall hard and fast and think, oh, but I need more, so you hesitantly eye the author’s other works, hoping for a contestant for your heart and yet, too afraid to let yourself do so. Sometimes, the next book will be a glowing gem and sometimes, a dull brick—it’s a risk, always, to allow your heart to dream; but a life without risks is a life gone stale.

I dreamt and I worried because, after the utter devastating magic that was The Book Thief, my expectations of Markus Zusak were admittedly too high; now having read I Am the Messenger, I am glad that I dreamt and reached and regret that I ever doubted this man.

“Of course you’re real—like any thought or any story. It’s real when you’re in it.”

I Am the Messenger is not The Book Thief—yes, they are both slow, moving, character driven, lyrically written stories of pain and finding light in the darkest corners of life, but where The Book Thief told the tale of one of the bleakest moments in the history of humanity through the innocent eyes of a child, Messenger weaves a mysterious tapestry of chasing the sun rather than waiting for it, of finding your purpose and stepping out of the suffocating definition of “ordinary,” of witnessing the ignored suffering of those around us, the truths swept beneath the rugs of our lives as we walk away and through our day, and, unlike the day before, standing up and raising a fist, a voice, and marching toward the fear.

It’s the profound moment when you pause in the rush of life to think and break the cycle of blindness, the blink right before realisation and the lever that changes the train’s path; it’s quiet and unassuming, small kindnesses and big ones stacked up and up, right up to the sky; and it’s Alec Benjamin’s Must Have Been the Wind, which you can find on my playlist for the book ➾ Spotify URL

“I’m fine, Marv,” I tell him. “Just thinking of some things.”
“That’ll kill you,” he warns. “You’re better off not thinking at all.”

Zusak’s bizarre, powerful, and uniquely atmospheric writing has again gifted me with a bizarre, powerful, and uniquely atmospheric book whose every page and small turn of phrase pierced me straight through, speaking to silent words slumbering in my mind. I can proudly say that Ed stole the words right out of my mouth when he said, “I feel like I could carry the world in my arms tonight,” because that is precisely how Messenger, this simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming story that tore me into pieces and stitched me back together and had me floating high past the clouds, pushed by words so heavy and yet so hopefully light that they were synonymous to a paradox, had me feeling.

Nothing really ends at the end. Things just keep going as long as memory can wield its ax, always finding a soft part in your mind to cut through and enter.

CW ➾ armed robbery, rape and sexual assault (not graphic), stalking, bullying

Storyline: Breaking the Ordinary

On an ordinary day, Ed Kennedy (the epitome of ordinariness) is lying on the bank floor, his three friends also writhing there next to him, all of them bickering like ten-year-old children as a (rather useless) gunman shouts (very seriously, I promise) for his money—I’m sure you can imagine how it’s not starting off as the ordinary day Ed is used to, and Ed Kennedy can’t wait for the gunman to just be done with it so he can go back to his own business.

But then Ed does something brave as some might call it, or stupid as others would—he breaks the ordinary. He acts and is thus chosen; chosen to be the messenger, to care and act where others would cower and step back.

“While the rest of this town sleeps, I’m doing its dirty laundry.”
“You’re chosen.”
“Well, that’s comforting!”

So the cards arrive. One by one. The addresses. The names. The messages. The vague instructions. The envelopes. The guy. The suitcase. The hitmen. And a gun. Protect the diamonds; survive the clubs; dig deep through the spades; feel the hearts. Now, the “just Ed” who only ever brushed the surface of the world—never doing anything, never touching any lives—has a purpose here. He just has to find it, to dig deep into the heart of it all, see the ugliness and loneliness, and do whatever it takes to deliver the message.

Storytelling: Touching the Hearts

I wish I could hold up that knife and tear open the world. I’d slice it open and climb through to the next one.

I’m trying and failing and trying and failing to put into words the sheer breathtaking beauty of Markus Zusak’s prose. Reading Markus Zusak, my breath flees; lungs starve; hands worry; fingers dance. Eyelids clap in the drizzle of my eyes; eyes cleave open hearts; hearts shout; thunder. And here I sit, speechless; useless. With broken words; inadequate; shattered. The dots scattered; gone.

I am trying, yes.
But we’ve already established I’m failing gloriously, too.

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.
Well done, Ed.
Well given up.

His storytelling reads like the scattered thoughts of a poet, partnering up words and nouns you’d not have thought could shape such stunning a dance and vivid a picture, like when he wrote, “He holds the box out, puzzled, lifting it into the conversation.” He uses frequent metaphors and absurd imagery to discreetly weigh in on the nature of life and turn his words evocative while also making sure to insert much needed humour amidst the emotional wreckage—basically giving birth to perfection incarnate; I mean, humour and feels with the utmost finesse and wit, what else do you want??

We shake hands and walk in our different directions.
At the end of the road, just before I go around the corner, I turn one last time to see the lights.

Characterisation: Repainting the Lives

Me: *to readers* Hello and welcome to the next section where we will be analysing the characters Zusak has created and moulded in Messenger, discussing their themes and relationships. First up is our protagonist Ed, and he...well, I believe he can introduce himself better than I possibly could. *turns to ed*

Me: So, Edward, would you mind telling the readers a little about yourself?

Ed: My full name’s Ed Kennedy.

Me: That’t...that’s it?

Ed: Not Edward, Edmund, Edwin. Just Ed. Sheer mediocrity feels nice for a change.


Me: OK?


Me: Maybe just say a little more about yourself? You aren’t giving me enough to work with here, kid.

Ed: Oh wait you were asking about me? Sorry I kinda stopped listening the moment you said Edward cause I first had to establish the basics haha we good?

Me: *facepalms* Ugh it’s fine Ed.

Ed: Awesome! *grins*

*cue awkward silence*



Me: No rush, we will patiently await your earliest convenience.

Ed: What? *is still grinning*

Me: You were supposed to introduce yourself??

Ed: Oh oh okay! Well, I’m nineteen. I’m an underage cabdriver. I’m typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city—not a whole lot of prospects or possibility. That aside, I read more books than I should, and I’m decidedly crap at sex and doing my taxes. Nice to meet you.

Me: *face palms* you know I said a little, right? I’m sure we didn’t need to know some of that.

Ed: My pleasure. *the silly grin is still on btw*


Me: Well, marvelo—


Me: WTF.

Ed: Oh I can’t let you say that word cause, well, then I’d shoot you with this gun. *pulls out a gun and yes, you guessed right, he is still grinning*


Ed: OK OK FINE. *surrenders gun and puts hands in the air*

Me: *sighs*

Me: Moving on.

Me: *to readers again* As you can see, the MC is a contradictory, oblivious, absurd cinnamon roll—

Ed: —and so witty he has judges itching and wishing to put him on trial, yes I do.


Me: Thank you for your contribution Ed but that’s the last time you interrupt me so please kindly shut up.

Ed: Why so rude. *mutters sth intelligible*

Me: As I was saying, in his faceted, tangible, and conflicted characters, each with their own internal struggles, the author Markus Zus—


Me: *frustrated* Yes he is and you might be cute and hilarious, but don’t spoil it and I’m talking so you will zip it or I will zip you.

Ed: *sits back, chastised*

Me: Good. *turns back to audience* Zusak builds dreams and failures, personalities and bonds—from friendship, brotherhood, and motherhood, to budding romance and aged romance and dying love, none of it paper-thin and all of it bearing innocent and picturesque depth. My favourites however were, as usual, the ones with an all-consuming air of tragedy around them; such as Milla the old—

Ed: Oh I love that woman, she—

Me: OUT. OUT. OUT NOW. *grips him by the collar and drags him to the cross at the top of the screen* YOU DONUT I AM SO DONE WITH YOU.

Ed: *stumbles along, hands shielding his head from the anticipated blow yours truly is half tempted to give him but won’t because dammit he’s too adorable* OK OK I’M GOING no need to get all violent now, is there?

Me: Look who’s talking! Did you enjoy holding that gun to the guy’s head and pulling the trigger? How about beating up that Rose kid?? *to the readers, smiling very kindly while wrestling with Ed* Please continue on to the next section while I clean the place a little and throw out this...vermin. *discreetly pushes Ed out the window*

Ed: *lands butt-first, making a series of disgruntled noises*

Me: *shoots audience an accusing look, hair gone wild and skirts all twisted up* What’re you still doing here?? Shoo. *presses enter and shoots readers to the next line*

The Message: Spreading the Word

I Am the Messenger is, ultimately, a book about refusing to be okay just for the sake of it, to shield our eyes from the black in our and others’ lives, turn our faces away from their gazes crying out for help—always too cowardly to do a damn thing, always too preoccupied with our bubble of comfort. But Albert Einstein said it best, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” And you don’t need to be a chosen saint to bring warmth to a house, freezing in the dead of winter; you can be just another ordinary, stupid human.

All you need to do is look, to pay attention, and to get up, step forward, and gift a smile, a meal, a hug; because sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference and as Zusak wrote, “Big things are often just small things that are noticed.

“You are the epitome of ordinariness, Ed.” He looks at me seriously. “And if a guy like you can stand up and do what you did for all those people, well, maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of.” He becomes intense now. Emotional. This is everything. “Maybe even I can.”

But Messenger is also about living—living not as dragging our feet from one day to the next, breathing a dying air, prancing through a life monotonous and blind, no, living as cleaning the distorted glass, putting on our glasses to clear our hazy sight and truly seeing ourselves and surroundings. So many of us float through life, thinking we are right where we want to be, and so many of us are wrong, a quietly burning candle of dissatisfaction deep in our guts. No, we don’t need to do something grand to matter, to have lived; all we need is to look where we never have, see what we’d never seen, ask all we’d never asked, and find our purpose—even if it is planting smiles on the lips of the old woman you walk past every day.

With the bizarre ending, Zusak geniusly wraps up all the messages and cards in a nice gift box and hands it to us so that we might—or he might, because the starting point is always our own selves—glimpse the horizon beyond our noses and live as if it’s a blessing and not a choir.

“Why me?” I ask God.
God says nothing.
I laugh and the stars watch.
It’s good to be alive.
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,889 followers
November 18, 2011
My full name’s Ed Kennedy. I’m nineteen. I’m an underage cabdriver. I’m typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city – not a whole lot of prospects or possibility. That aside, I read more books than I should, and I’m decidedly crap at sex and doing my taxes. Nice to meet you.

After accidentally preventing a bank robber from escaping, Ed Kennedy receives his first playing card with three addresses written on it. He understands that he needs to deliver a message to each of these places, but the card offers no further instructions. Relying on his intuition alone, Ed starts touching people’s lives and trying to understand what he has to do. The messages vary from simple to horribly complex and painful, but they all have one thing in common: they need Ed to shake them up and save them from themselves.

I think the most wonderful thing about Zusak is the surprising humanity of his characters. Not only do they come alive for the reader, but they also take so many different roles in the process. Their simple acts of kindness often end up being impressive and life-changing. I’d noticed this about so many characters in The Book Thief and I feared it was a one-time deal, but Ed might be the best of them all. In complete contrast to the ending, Ed is one of the most real and tangible characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. The fact that he’s completely unaware of how extraordinary he is just adds to his charm. My only regret is that the same cannot be said about Audrey. I really needed her to be just as well developed, but she was the only one who didn’t feel real to me, and that’s the sole reason for my 4-star rating.

I Am the Messenger will make you happy in at least three ways: it will give you a truly authentic, approachable story that will go straight through your heart, it will make you examine the way you treat complete strangers and it will catch you completely off guard.
I wish I could hold up that knife and tear open the world. I’d slice it open and climb through to the next one.
In bed, I cling to that thought.

I suppose many people will not be comfortable with the ending. I thought it was unexpected, brilliant (like the man himself), mind-blowing (still picking up the pieces) and audacious. It didn’t take anything from the story, it didn’t diminish the importance of any of the characters, and it added an extra dose of memorability the book wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise.

Choosing a favorite quote this time was just like choosing a favorite child, but there was one I needed to share:
What would you do if you were me? Tell me. Please tell me! But you’re far from this. Your fingers turn the strangeness of these pages that somehow connect my life to yours. Your eyes are safe. The story is just another few hundred pages of your mind. For me, it’s here. It’s now. I have to go through with this, considering the cost at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same.

For this and more of our reviews, visit The Nocturnal Library

Thanks to the lovely Jasprit for reading this with me.

Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
842 reviews3,775 followers
February 15, 2021

2.5 stars. Some books you instantly love - they reach you, unconditionally. Others you hate with passion and you would happily burn them if only you weren't reading ebooks (also, you really don't want to have something in common with every tyrant out there). Then they're the mild, non-committal threes and two-and-a-half, better known as the great shelf of meh.

► Well now. Do not be fooled by my 2.5 stars rating : I Am the Messenger is not one of those books.

Indeed this rating is to be taken as a chicken-hearted average to somehow express the utter confusion I've been feeling.

Here's the thing : While I cannot deny that some parts were pretty great, especially when it comes to the pacing (rather fast-paced, even though it took me 4 days to read it, which is a lot for me) and that I liked most of the writing -

- Oh, about that. Markus Zusak's writing often revolves around short sentences - now, I know that some readers don't like them, but I often find myself enjoying that kind of writing when done well. Yet it is a little too dramatic sometimes, I can't deny it. However, it sounded perfect to convey Ed's sarcasm and "woe-is-me" general attitude, and contributed to make the novel seem more action-packed...

When it is.

(and let it be known that I enjoy Blake Crouch's writing, so it is not a peeve of mine usually)

... I was less than impressed with the constant undercurrent of sexism, didn't like the cop-out ending (I don't know if I expected too much, but it was a real letdown) (also, it has been done before) (I did roll my eyes) (oops) (but for fuck sake, cheesy much?) and developed an annoyance/love/hate relationship with Ed, the MC.

Ed, Ed, Ed...

++ Self-depreciating but oh so sarcastic voice : Ed is sure flawed and I wanted to smack him several times, but I still liked him.

"Taxi driver. Local loser. Cornerstone of mediocrity. Sexual midget. Pathetic card-player. And now weird-shit magnet on top of it.
Admit it.
It's not a bad list I'm building up."

See what I mean? Albeit unintentionally sometimes, I couldn't help but laugh.

- - I bitch, you bitch, he bitches : Can his friends really called friends? He seems to spend the whole book complaining about them. Well to be fair, he spends a huge amount of time bitching about himself too.

- - Some of his decisions didn't sit well with me : indeed something broke in me when he decided to wait before acting on the fucking rapist case. I'm not saying that I couldn't understand it but why not warn someone?? Why did Markus Zusak decide to make it okay for us to witness someone being raped countless times (not graphic, but we know it is happening) before moving along the plot? WHY? It made me sick. Also. The brothers? Well. Not impressed by his solution is the only thing I can say. Aw poor guys needed to bond over violence. I might shed a tear. Not.

- - - But my main complain is the fact that in my opinion the whole novel is incredibly sexist. I mean, did you see the female characters? Above that, did you freaking notice how Ed described them? Apart from Milla, the octogenarian, every female character is portrayed through her sexual behavior and her looks, . I will not bore you through the details (but silly bitch, really? REALLY?), but it bothered me very much. Not to mention Ed's weird obsession on women legs (no exaggeration) and the way he tries to convince us that Audrey must have sex with him. Why the fuck should she, really. Finally, am I the only one who found Sophie's parts incredibly disturbing? I know she's 15 and not 8, BUT the way Ed emphasizes on her very young age all the time got to me after a while and therefore I couldn't help but find his attraction a little gross.

Honestly, I would probably praise the originality of the plot if not for

I know, I know, they're far from carbon copies of each other's but I cannot help but think that I would have enjoyed I Am the Messenger more if I wasn't a huge fan of Amélie Poulain and her missions. What can I say, the story was more fun in Montmartre...

(these horses were the reason of many tantrums when I was a toddler - sorry mum)

...than in...

Where the fuck is this town, anyway?

Oh. Never mind.

Moreover, if you ever watched Amélie Poulain, you know that I Am the Messenger would make it incredibly difficult to suspend our disbelief sometimes. Far from me the intent of spoiling the plot, so I'll let it at that, but damn, it ruined the "shock value" of the ending in my opinion. Alright, the atmosphere of the book does make what's unbelievable *almost* acceptable, but please, please, do not hide behind sentences like, "I really don’t know why I did that" - it annoys me to no end.

Many readers pointed that the message was beautiful and I don't want to be a spoil-fun, because it is, in some way, but why did Markus Zusak have to be so IN YOUR FACE about it? So glaringly obvious?

"Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are."

See this sentence? Nobody can disagree with that, and yet... I'm sorry, but it reads like a Nike advertisement.

So much time spent pushing at open doors really. Disappointing read.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,840 followers
December 12, 2018
I knew nothing about this book going in other than that it was by The Book Thief author. I probably never would have tried it without that being the case, so it does pay off to have one big bestseller!

This odd little story is touted as a Young Adult book. Um, I mean, I guess it could be, but it doesn't really feel like one. All of the main characters are adults and the story doesn't stand out to me as something that would specifically appeal to young readers. But, hey, I am a grown up so what do I know!?😁

I start the previous paragraph mentioning that this book is odd. It is definitely unique and kind of hard to explain. It has lots of little stories within the main story and kind of a "Pay It Forward" vibe. It can definitely be given the designation as being a feel good story.

I also mentioned The Book Thief above (dang, I am going to have to start adding cross reference notations to this review!) If you are hoping for another Book Thief, this is not it. But, not in a bad way. This is a great book, it is just nothing like The Book Thief. In fact, there is no way I would have thought they were the same author. I think that is a pretty good quality to have as an author: the ability to write many good books that don't feel like the same thing rehashed.

Looking for a decent, quick, feel good read? Give this one a go!
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,934 reviews10.6k followers
April 6, 2012
Nineteen year old cab driver Ed Kennedy foils a bank robbery and soon finds himself receiving cryptic messages in the mail written on playing cards. Each card bears hints toward three people Ed must help in some way. Will Ed ever find out who is behind is mysterious messages?

Apart from books by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, this is my first foray into young adult literature and I enjoyed it immensely.

I think the first thing that pulled me in was that Ed is a lot like I was at nineteen. I like to think I had a little more confidence but I had no idea what I wanted to do either and I'm reasonably sure I was secretly in love with a girl who was only interested in being friends at the time as well. And hell, I'm damn sure I would have taken up the messenger role like Ed did had I gotten playing cards in the mail.

The supporting cast was very well done, from Ed's friends Marv, Ritchie, and Audrey, to the people he bore messages to, like Sophie, Milla, and the spoilerific rest of them.

The writing was superb. I liked Ed's self-deprecating sense of humor and found a lot of parts very touching. The ending wasn't anything I predicted but it ended well.

I had a lot more to say about this while I was reading it but got caught up in the story and forgot most of what I'd planned. Kind of like waking from a dream and resolving to write it down in the morning, then not being able to remember anything at all. It reminded me of G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday for a few brief moments but I'm not sure why.

Five easy stars. I'll be reading more YA and Markus Zusak in the future.
Profile Image for Maureen.
507 reviews4,199 followers
January 8, 2016
This book was pretty fantastic TBH. I don't that it was quite a 5 star and INCREDIBLE but it was pretty great.
Ed was an overall likeable character, though sometimes he said and did some very problematic things, especially in his relationship with girls. But most people in life are problematic in one way or another, so #relatable #reallife.
This book was a bit hard for me to get into at first and took some easing in but once I was in I wanted to finish it ALL!
The ending was a little weird and abrupt, but kind of fit the book. Ed's conclusions and thoughts were what made the ending rather than the events.
It's such a unique story, setting, and overall book that I would definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Annemarie.
249 reviews686 followers
July 4, 2020
I can't believe how much I hated this book. It's been two months since I read it and I'm still furious about it. Looking at the other reviews, I seem to be in the minority though. I've been trying to figure out why I liked it so much less than so many others and I haven't found a good, solid answer yet. My only idea is that, maybe, I have simply outgrown YA at this point. It definitely made me want to stay away from the genre for a bit.

I don't even know with what to start. Because I just disliked everything.
First of all (and maybe most importantly): the writing style. It was so...juvenile? That's the word that first comes to mind. I constantly had the feeling that the book was written by a teenager, maybe as a project for a creative writing class or something like that. But I feel like I'm being unfair to teenagers when I say this. I have read works from teenagers before, and their writing style often was A TON better than this.
Yes, the story was told from the perspective of a teenager, but that doesn't justify the crude writing. Tons of books have been written in this perspective, without making me want to go crazy. This book consisted mainly of short sentences, sometimes ending right in the middle. What is this?? If that's a special artistic way of teenagers expressing themselves, then I'm sorry - I just don't get it.

Now, the characters. Jesus...I hated EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. THEM! I was waiting and waiting to find a tiny bit of love for at least one of them but I was left waiting. I just didn't care for them, like, at all! This is something very, very rare to happen to me.
The main character though, without a doubt, was the absolute worst. He's actually one of the worst fictional characters I have ever encountered. He was EXTREMELY self-absorbed and he only saw the bad in everyone. There was a ridiculous amount of self-pity. I'm not a psychiatrist, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone would diagnose him with a Narcissistic personality disorder.
It didn't take me long to be utterly annoyed by him and his behavior. At times, he was straight-up creepy and grossed me out.
For example, the way he acted towards his best friend, Audrey, who he has a crush on. He lets her know he has feelings for her, she makes it clear she just sees him as a friend. He then goes on to picture her naked several times. Like, I get it, he's a teenager and stuff, but the way it was written just seemed quite disrespectful?! I felt sorry for Audrey, because the boundaries she set weren't respected.
He also acts too sexual towards an underage girl, for my liking. He didn't even interact too much with her, but when he did, it left me feeling uncomfortable.

In my opinion, the author didn't try at all to make any of the side characters have any kind of layers. This was most obvious in how Ed's mother was portrayed. I have the feeling that Zusak decided that she's is a bad mother, and that was that. He didn't try to show another side of her or try to explain her stand point. So she made her react badly and overly upset about every little thing. It was so incredibly over the top and ridiculous.

Then there were times were the story (especially in regards to the love story) became cheesy as hell. I guess it could have been cute to some extent, if the rest of the story would have been similar. But it wasn't, so it just seemed misplaced.
This was noticeable in the end in particular. The ending in general seemed completely disconnected from the rest. It made zero sense to me, there was no good lead up or anything. And worst of all, it left me with the question: What was the point? That's not a question you want to ask yourself after finishing a book. I didn't even feel satisfied or happy that I was finally at the end. I felt angry that I kept holding on to hope that the story might get better. And afterwards, I fell into a horrible reading slump for over a month. So thanks for that!

It's a shame really, because I loved The Book Thief, and because the synopsis sounded quite exciting and unique. But the execution was so incredibly bad. I'm sorry to the many people who love I Am the Messenger, but this is the worst book I have read in my entire life.
Profile Image for Mario.
Author 1 book190 followers
July 12, 2015
Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.

The Book Thief is one of my favorite books ever (if not my favorite book ever), then how is it possible that I loved I Am the Messenger even more?

This book is just... beautiful, from start to finish. I'm not really good at putting my thoughts into words so I know that nothing I could ever say will bring this book justice (but that still won't stop me from trying).

First of all, it took me a long time to read this book, but it wasn't the books fault. I had to study for a test to get into college (I got accepted, YAY!), so my reading had to suffer from it. But even that didn't stop me from enjoying this book completely. I think if I had the time I would finish it in one sitting.

At the beginning, I thought that I was reading just an ordinary book, with ordinary characters and their ordinary lives. But now, that I've finished it, I can say that this book is anything but ordinary. It made me laugh, it made me tear up, it made me angry, and at the ending it left me feeling emotionally drained, but also really happy (if that makes any sense). It really touched me, and made me think about things that I (and a lot of us) just take for granted. I can't count the times when I've read a quote from this book that made me stop reading and just think about it for a few seconds.

And the ending is the reason that I ended up liking this book even more than the The Book Thief. I'm not gonna say anything about the ending, except that it blew my mind and that I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

So I think that's enough from me, cause I feel like if I continue I'll start getting emotional, and I wouldn't want that. So in conclusion, amazing book that will stick with me for the rest of my life, and that I will definitely come back to more than once.
Profile Image for Jackie "the Librarian".
870 reviews261 followers
July 28, 2008
I threw this book across the room, and then I picked it back up, held it at arms length, and shook my head at it. And then I thought about the way it held me in suspense, how it kept the kids in my teen book group reading and thinking, and I dusted it off and gave it a hug. Markus Zusak, you bastard!
What has me reacting like a schizophrenic? Why, I can't tell YOU. That would spoil the book for you, and you really should read it. The basic plot is, a guy stops a bank robbery, gets written up in the local paper, and then gets a mysterious message in the mail. It's the ace of hearts, I think, and with it is three addresses. No explanatory note, nothing.
He checks out the addresses, and at each one, there's a situation that needs some help. A girl runner needs encouragement, an immigrant family needs some Christmas cheer, a woman is being abused by her husband.
Now, this guy is just a cab driver with no ambition, so he doesn't really want to get involved... but it turns out, he doesn't have much choice. And, there are 3 more aces to go.
Intrigued? Hope so.
Profile Image for shellyindallas .
107 reviews30 followers
April 16, 2009
I downloaded this on itunes today because my job is super boring and I like to have stuff to listen to and/or watch online. Plus it's popular with some friends, and I'm a follower like that. Anyway, I had to force myself to turn it off today so that I would have something to look forward to tomorrow. I'm halfway through. The story and the reader's voice are mesmerizing! Don't want it to end.

Review starts here:

There's a series on PBS about these doctors--it may even be called "The Doctors," (can't remember)--anyway it's a documentary that follows a handful of Harvard Medical students from their first days in the classroom, to residency, to their eventual careers. I haven't seen each episode but my boyfriend was telling me how one of the students went on to become an ophthalmologist and would go to third world countries to examine people and hand out glasses every chance he got. He (the doctor) also confessed to being lonely because he worked so much and went on to talk about how when he retires he wants to travel and distribute more glasses. My reaction was that a lot people who recognize where there is a need somewhere see it as something so overwhelming that even if they were to do something THAT something wouldn't be enough so they choose to do nothing (or, at least I tend to feel that way). Whereas this guy is working hard and when the time comes for him to stop working and take some time for himself and his family all he can think about is all the people out there whose lives would be improved if they just had a new pair of glasses. So simple. God bless him.

This, for me, is the message of Zusak's "I Am The Messenger": You don't have to be great to do good, you just have to do it. The story's protagonist, Ed Kennedy, is (as the book emphasizes) an ordinary 19 year old guy. He has no special skills, or talents. He's not really strong, or really funny, or really good at math. He's a cabbie who plays cards with his friends and has had a crush on the same girl since he sprouted his first pube but is way too passive and laid-back to do anything about it, like, for example, move on when it's not reciprocated. Ed's Mom is a complete nag who makes it clear to him that she prefers his siblings to him and that she expects nothing more from him than for him to fuck up.
Yet Ed, like most ordinary 19 year olds, doesn't dwell on his unfortunate relationship with his mother. Or the unfortunate state of affairs that are his life.

But the unfortunate byproduct of Ed's unfortunate obliviousness to the reality of the world around him is that Ed is missing out on the big things. Like he says at one point "Big things are just the small things you notice." (Or something like that.)

Much like The Ghost of Christmas Past or Earl's list of bad deeds he must apologize for in the name of Karma, an outside source enters Ed's life to help lead him off the road of mediocrity and onto the road of good deeds. Ed's messages from an ominous stranger come in the form of playing cards in his mailbox with cryptic clues written on the back that Ed then must decipher and act upon. Ed has no clue who's behind the cards, or what the purpose of all this is but he carries on, unwittingly improving the lives of all the other ordinary people around him and in the process coming to understand himself, his mother, his friends and the girl who is the object of his desire on a deeper level.

What I loved so much about this book, aside from the writing and the characters and the setting and the suspense and the emotion, was that despite the novel's outlandishness, Ed's achievements and his impact on others is completely believable. You know that there is nothing significant about Ed. He has no superpowers, his acts of goodness were not preordained. Yet you don't doubt for a second that Ed's simple deeds make his world a better place.

This story is sweet and thrilling and captivating and inspiring. I have no idea what makes it a "Young Adult" book and I refuse to be embarrassed for liking it so much. Unlike "The Hills" which is clearly young adult and something any person over the age of 21 should be embarrassed to admit to liking. Fucking Spencer! What an asshole!
Profile Image for Kim.
286 reviews781 followers
April 26, 2008
Stamp it on my forehead, folks. I'm here, I'm a blubbering fool, get used to it.

I didn't have high expectations going into this novel, I'd heard it wasn't as good as 'The Book Thief'(pfft...whole box of kleenix on that one). But, I finished it in 7 hours and what can I say?

Um... I.AM.A.SAP

Okay, I can see the flaws, I mean..I'm not a stupid sap. I could see the formula... I knew what was coming. But, the writing makes up for it.

Plus, a 19-year-old-suffering-from-low-self-esteem-who-has-a-severe-case-of-unrequited-love-that-is-moved-enough-by-circumstances-presented-to-him-that-he-does-whatever-he-can-to-improve-their-situations?? HELLO??? Um...my 19 year old self would have been utterly smitten. With lines like this: "The yawn of a girl can be so beautiful it makes you cringe". swoon. It didn't change my life---but it gave me a nice reprieve.

Okay, my groupie side is showing. Maybe this is a 'chick' book, maybe I've never matured past the age of 15, maybe I'm one of those dreamy doe=eyed girls that you snarky bastards make fun of.

I've got a pint of Chunky Monkey, When Harry met Sally cued, and Peter Gabriel's 'Your Eyes' on infinite repeat.

Bring it on
Profile Image for K.
711 reviews46 followers
January 11, 2009
Maybe I'm allergic to Markus Zusak's writing? What he intends as quirky, inspiring, and heartwarming, my brain interprets as affected, cliche, and grossly manipulative. In this novel, an underachieving 19 year old begins receiving cards directing him to various troubled individuals around town. By stalking these people and interfering with their lives at the right moments, he becomes a hero/saint figure, and wins the heart of his beautiful best friend, a girl who'd previously been too afraid to love. I guess then this book is for people who are NOT afraid to love, and highly un-recommended for readers overly suspicious of false uplift.
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,435 reviews814 followers
May 12, 2023
“We both smack the sudden silence with laughter. When it returns, we hit it again. The laughter spins in front of us and we keep hitting it.”

Ever had a fit of the giggles or a laughing jag? Ed Kennedy is a nineteen-year-old taxi driver in a small town outside Sydney. An Aussie reader will recognise the characters and the rites of passage, but really, young people have a lot in common all over the world. Some still live with parents and wish they could move, while some are on their own but have mixed feelings about their independence.

Ed’s one of the latter. He tells the story in his own words. His dad’s dead and he’s always been the least favourite of Ma’s kids, so his relationship with her is awkward. It’s not what he would choose, but it is what it is.

I think there are a lot of kids who might relate to this love-hate relationship with their parents or elders. His mother does ring him up, although he knows it’s because he’s the only one who still lives in town and is actually available to do her favours.

This is written for young people, and while Zusak does love to play with words and unusual phrasing and language (as in the initial quotation), there’s never any confusion about what he means. This, for example, is pretty straightforward. Ma shouts at him over the phone and swears all the time, but he always stays calm.

“Too pathetically calm for my own good. I should just tell the old cow to shut up, but I never have and never will. After all, she can’t have a relationship like this with any of her other kids. Just me. She kisses their feet every time they come to visit (which isn’t that much) and they just leave again. With me, at least she’s got consistency.”

He’s pretty much live-and-let-live, makes excuses for people’s questionable behaviour, and is fairly content living with his dog, Doorman, an ancient smelly thing who drinks coffee with him and loves lasagne. Good company. But Ed does kind of wonder if he will ever amount to anything.

The story revolves around him and his three best friends, opening with an almost slapstick bank robbery gone wrong. Ed emerges as a local hero, through no ‘fault’ of his own, and becomes regularly recognised by people from his picture in the paper.

We know he’s too young for a taxi licence, so at least he was enterprising enough to have a go at driving for a job, but mostly, he and the others are pretty laid-back and just play cards and enjoy a beer.

Until things change. He receives an envelope with his name scrawled on it and a playing card inside. The Ace of Diamonds. On the card, also scrawled, are three addresses. What the?

How he figures out the message and what effect it has on him and others is the crux of the book. I have to say, Zusak does test my patience with his extravagant wordplay. There were many times I wanted to tell him to drop the pretentiousness and just get on with the story - but then I realised that that is Ed. He is not the dim-witted dill that he leads us to believe. He’s imaginative and poetic.

“It feels like the mornings clap their hands.
To make me wake.”

He looks at the addresses on the Ace of Diamonds.

“There’s an eeriness slipping over my hands. It makes its way inside me and travels, quietly gnawing at my thoughts. I read:
‘45 Edgar Street, midnight
13 Harrison Avenue, 6pm
6 Macedoni Street, 5:30am.’

Deciphering another list, he says:

“The names watch me, and I swear they see it when I understand.
. . .
The name greets my eyes like a fist.”

I do love his writing, even when he exasperates me. I’ve heard him say his favourite book is Catch-22, and he re-reads it every year or so. I don’t know if he still does, but it definitely gave him a great sense of the absurd. It’s high time I re-read it myself, I think.

Anyone who’s ever been a kid at loose ends should enjoy this remarkable book, Aussie or not.

UPDATE: Here is a Guardian interview in May 2023 about this book.
Profile Image for Kassidy.
339 reviews11k followers
March 28, 2018
Markus Zusak does not disappoint! I love the message in this book and it leaves such a powerful impact!
Profile Image for Hillary.
48 reviews3 followers
January 13, 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.
Profile Image for Chantal .
337 reviews826 followers
February 14, 2016
I buddy read this with Vane! Click here to see her review.

3.5 stars

I am the Messenger is, in many ways, a beautiful book. The story is moving, the message beautiful and the characters interesting and complex. It is also often very humorous and it ended up making me smile (and even laugh) many times. Do not go into this expecting it to be like The Book Thief, the two books are nothing alike and you will be disappointed. For those with an open mind however, I believe this book has quite a lot to say.

The premise of the book intrigued me. We have Ed Kennedy, an ordinary 19-year-old guy who finds himself in the middle of a bank robbery along with his three best friends. After the incident his life changes dramatically when Ed finds a mysterious playing card in his letter box with three addresses on it. From here on out, Ed acts as a messenger, delivering to each and every person on the playing card what they need.

The novel starts off with one of the best first chapters I have ever read: the bank robbery. That scene was hilarious, full of intrigue and made me curious as to what the rest of the novel would bring. Unfortunately, the book never again reached that high mark of suspense but it was entertaining nonetheless.

One of the best things about the story for me was Ed. I loved him as a main character. Some might find him a little too self-deprecating to be likable but I personally could empathize with him so much. I felt his pain and understood what he was going through. He is ordinary, average, has no special talents, no great ambitions, no grand accomplishments. At 19, he believes that he has already come as far as he can go. While people around him do great things and have awesome jobs, his life has come to a stop. He is just living, never really changing.
Fortunately, the story isn’t about Ed feeling sorry for himself, instead, it’s about his growth. Seeing the confidence he gained with every delivered message was beautiful and I loved following his development throughout the story.

I also liked the other character and their relationships with one another. The scenes that featured Marv, Ritchie, Audrey and Ed together were my favorites. Some well-established, realistic friendships there that made me laugh out loud more than once. Both Marv and Ritchie were complex and fleshed out, Audrey less so. In fact, she may have been my least character in the story. And then there was the Doorman (Ed’s dog); he was awesome. The way Zusak made him a real character within the novel was fantastic.

The one relationship I wasn’t a big fan of was the romance. It was very tame, almost bland and just did nothing for me (this may very well be due to the fact that I didn’t like the love interest). I don’t think it was superfluous, but it didn’t really add anything to the story either.

Ultimately, I think the reason you should read this book, the reason I recommend it, is its message. Sometimes we all need a reminder that anyone, no matter how ordinary you think you are, can do something extraordinary. Every one of us can do something to help another person as long as we believe we can.

Additionally, there are also some beautiful quotes in here that I want everyone to read.
It's not a big thing, but I guess it's true--big things are often just small things that are noticed.

And this
Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.

I mean wow, I want to frame that last one and hang it on my wall.

I did have a few issues with the story. I felt that the middle part of the novel, the actual message delivering, didn’t captivate as much as I would have liked. I’m not sure why that was but I think the idea could have been executed better.

Then there was the writing, which I had some conflicting feelings about. Zusak does this thing where he sometimes spaces out sentences and makes them into an entire paragraph. This can be an effective literary device, however, I felt that it was overused and the fact that it was always employed when something meaningful was said felt very in-my-face “this is important”. I prefer books to be more subtle.

Then there was the ending which frankly I didn’t enjoy a whole lot. It wasn’t predictable, but it felt a little like a cop-out. It didn’t ruin the book for me or anything but I wish that the mystery aspect would have been more elaborate, better developed.

One last remark that I want to mention is the question of righteousness. In the story, Ed does various things to deliver the messages that will in the end up bettering peoples’ lives, bettering humanity. My issue does not concern the “positive” acts but the once in which he employs violence. Whenever something like this happens in a story, I just find myself questioning what is right and wrong. Because who are we to decide what message needs delivering? Who are we to decide how someone else should live? Who are we to pass judgment? Of course the results in the novel are purely positive, but I couldn’t help but wonder if what Ed was doing really was the best course of action.

Despite my complaints I still recommend this book. It’s not the most engaging story in the world but the characters kept me hooked nonetheless and the message is truly worth it.

Profile Image for Brigid ✩.
581 reviews1,820 followers
December 18, 2012
It's been months since I read this, so bear with me. But nonetheless, I still remember this book pretty clearly so hopefully it's not a problem.


Honestly, I put off reading this book for a long time. I love The Book Thief so much that I was a little afraid to read more of Zusak's work just because my standards for his writing were set so ridiculously high.

But, I shouldn't have worried, because I Am the Messenger is also super-duper amazing. Is it as phenomenal as The Book Thief? Eh, I don't know. It's hard to compare the two, since they're so drastically different. But this one was definitely just as powerful and unforgettable.

I've come to believe that Markus Zusak is just a magical writing god and that everything he touches turns to gold. He makes me want to throw my own writing in a fire. His writing is just so fantastic and his characters are so real ... It's just not fair.


Gosh ... some people ...
I just can't ...

OKAY. I'm actually going to review this book now.

I Am the Messenger is the story of 19-year-old Ed Kennedy, an underage cab driver who basically just plays cards and sucks at romance, and essentially isn't going anywhere in life. Then one day, by chance, he ends up stopping a bank robbery ... and from there, things start to get interesting. Ed begins receiving playing cards with addresses written on them––and soon finds that he is being sent all over town to people who need his help. The question is, who is sending these cards and why have they chosen Ed?

"Beautiful" is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book. Because, it just is. Altogether, it's a pretty feel-good and uplifting story about the simple goodness of human nature, and about how the smallest actions can really change people's lives.

But, don't get me wrong; this isn't the "Pay It Forward" type of corny it sounds like. First of all, Ed is no "Gary Stu" of a character. He's sarcastic, he messes up, he makes mistakes ... he even has to hurt a few people along the way in order for things to work out. So, it's not like he's some kind of magical guardian angel; he's conflicted about a lot of the things he has to do, and nervous to get involved in some people's lives––because he has to get involved in some pretty intense stuff.

Basically, you just have to experience it. I found it to be really wonderfully written and executed, perfectly paced, hilarious, tragic, compelling, hopeful, believable ... Ahhh, it's just gorgeous. I give it an easy 5 stars and a standing ovation.

Profile Image for Scarlet.
187 reviews1,160 followers
April 18, 2013

Like anyone who has read The Book Thief would know (and if you haven’t read The Book Thief, what in the world are you waiting for??), Markus Zusak has that unusual ability to make you go from laughing to crying in a matter of minutes. So despite the general hilarity of the book, which had me in splits before the first chapter was even up, a small part of me was subconsciously waiting for the other shoe to drop – waiting for the tears and the heartbreak I was so sure would come.

And it never came - well, not in the way I expected. The tears I cried were happy tears and the parts that stabbed my heart didn't really break it, just pricked it enough to make me feel a weird mix of happy and sad.

In that respect, I am the Messenger is utterly different from The Book Thief - it won't make you curl up in bed and cry your eyes out. But that doesn't mean it's any less magnificent a book.

I am the Messenger tells the story of Ed - who, in his own words, is "nineteen, a cab-driver, with no real career, no respect in the community, nothing" - the utmost epitome of ordinariness. Until a bank holdup gets in the way. Ed starts receiving Aces in his mail directing him to people he must deliver messages to - only, Ed must figure out the message himself.

This book is a delightful mix of the weird and the wonderful, with a few pensive moments here and there. So many things that Ed does are ordinary , yet they tug at your heartstrings in a way that's extraordinary.

The writing is... amazing. I don’t know how to describe it, except call it beautiful.

Her voice is so sweet it’s almost ridiculous. It’s like strawberry-flavored or something, that voice.

The sentence lands between us like a ball with no air in it.

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.

I also fear that nothing really ends at the end. Things just keep going as long as memory can wield its ax, always finding a soft part in your mind to cut through and enter.

My voice is like a rumor. I’m not quite sure if it came out or not or if it’s true.

The way the book ends...it’s unconventional, to say the least. It catches you off-guard and takes its own sweet time to really sink in. But God, I loved it!! I think it’s the kind of ending that only a genius like Markus Zusak could come up with.

Delightful. Inventive. Beautiful.

This book makes me believe that maybe, I too can live beyond what I'm capable of :)
Profile Image for Kristijan.
216 reviews66 followers
July 12, 2015
Ubacujem moj review sa jednog drugog mesta... :D Ne zamerite :D

Učiniti pravu stvar za ljude koje ne znamo nije laka stvar, a još je teže to uraditi za one koje volimo i za sebe. Zusak u ovom (na momente izuzetno vedrom i smešnom, a na momente teškom i veoma ozbiljnom) romanu poziva upravo na to - da se usudimo na taj korak. Ovo je neodoljiv roman koji svojom porukom nadmašuje "Kradljivicu knjiga", napisan izuzetnim stilom sa veoma intrigantnim završetkom.

I da, definitivno treba pročitati ovaj roman još jednom... i još jednom :D
Profile Image for Ryan.
51 reviews376 followers
November 21, 2016
3.5 /5 stars

"Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are."

Let me just begin this review by saying that I Am the Messenger is not The Book Thief. As enjoyable as it was, it is nowhere near as incredible as The Book Thief was. But did I really care? No. Markus Zusak has such a way with words. He makes you feel the story, and the words, as if they were tangible things, and I love that. The words never feel empty, never like nothing more than ink on a page. Anyone who can do that has my respect.

"'He's left town and hasn't come back. I'm not sure if he ever will.'
'Does he deserve to?'
deserve got to do with anything? Who the hell am I to decide, Audrey?'"

I was still emotionally impacted by this book, don't get me wrong. I didn't sob like I did in The Book Thief, but I did go from sad, to happy, to melancholy, to laughing in a matter of thirty pages.

"Taxi driver. Local loser. Cornerstone of mediocrity. Sexual midget. Pathetic cardplayer. And now weird-shit magnet on top of it.
Admit it.
It's not a bad list I'm building up."

I don't know what it is about his books that make me feel so many things, but damn. Damn.

"I got hearts, and for some reason, this feels the most dangerous of them all. People die of broken hearts. They have heart attacks. And it's the heart that hurts most when things go wrong and fall apart."

I have a love-hate relationship with the ending. It makes sense, but I was disappointed in how it all wrapped up. Honestly, when I finished the book, I threw it down onto my bed, and left the room.


I understand why Zusak ended it the way he did, and I didn't entirely hate it, but I just wanted more. More of an explanation, more of a conclusion. I probably would've given this a solid four stars, had that had happened.


I would still recommend this book, regardless of the little things I disliked. It's book that should be read because of its message.

"'You are the epitome of ordinariness, Ed.' He looks at me seriously. 'And if a guy like you can stand up and do what you did for all those people, well, maybe everyone can.' He becomes intense now. Emotional. This is everything. 'Maybe even I can...'"
Profile Image for tiffany.
275 reviews91 followers
February 23, 2020
dnf at 100 pages :3

this book was really boring & somewhat confusing. i didn’t understand the symbolism behind the cards that Ed kept recieving and how he knew exactly what it meant when it really was just, hey here’s an ace of diamonds in the mail and some addresses and times written on it

what?? does?? that?? mean??

so Ed automatically interpreted it as some crime is going to happen at those specific addresses at that specific time and never once questioned why? and how? yeah, because these things happen to everyone on a normal basis. he questioned why he, himself, was chosen, and kept emphasizing that he was just a lowly cabdriver with no future and this phrase was stated so much it got so annoying. he never really went in depth into it though and didn't really realize what stuff was happening around him.

audrey, his best friend whom he has a crush on, also realizes what it means even though the cards weren’t even being sent to her. she just knows, because it’s so fucking obvious, apparently. Marv, one of Ed’s friends, was emphasized as this annoying character, but honestly, he seemed the most sane out of everyone.

can we just acknowledge how unique, yet undeniably weird this plot is? it’s too much to comprehend, and it’s not fantasy, but it’s still really unrealistic. (i read the last chapter before i officially dnfed and somehow, it got even more unrealistic and confusing)
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews946 followers
July 3, 2011
Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Say what?

High Points.
The beginning- what a hilarious opening. Hopefully I’ll never be caught in the middle of a bank heist, but I just know that if I ever were, that is exactly how I would act. Marv and Richie! The Doorman. Australia! Pa-pa-pa-poker faaaace. Mystery. Intrigue. Clues. (Most of) The messages were beautiful and made my little northern ice-heart melt.

Low Point.
I am still undecided about whether I liked Ed, I’ll discuss this more in the hero section. Even though the whole idea of the book was fantastic and so original, I hate to say it failed in the execution. Whether it was just me, I’m not sure, but I have NO idea what the ending was all about or… actually, what the whole ‘message’ of the book was all about. Also, the logistics are absolutely ridiculous. I mean, I don’t mind suspending my disbelief… but if I was going to suspend my disbelief for this book I’d probably need a crane. Also, the love story. YAWN.

OK, I loved Ed at first. He was sarcastic, funny, self-deprecating and he ticked all my boxes (yeah I fancied him). But as the book went on I found it more and more difficult to sympathise with him. He was one of those characters that are ridiculously slow at getting the gist of things and you just want to reach in and shake them by the collar and be like ‘WHY DON’T YOU GET WHAT’S HAPPENING YET?!’
I know there has to be an element of cluelessness in books like this so the author can develop the story properly… but this was silly.
I don’t want to end on a negative tone so I will say a few things about what I liked about Ed. He treated The Doorman, aka the second best dog in literature (Manchee still has my heart), with the respect he warranted. He did deal with crazy men in balaclavas turning up in house very bravely. He likes Bob Dylan. He was very sweet when it came to some of the messages, particularly Sophie, Angie, Marv and the Tatupu. Oh, and I’m always fascinated by people who can play cards without inadvertently launching into a game of 52 card pick-up. Seriously, I can't even play Snap.

Love Interests.
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue saying it until all the authors in the universe heed my infinite wisdom: A book does NOT need a love interest to be a good book. Yes, I love it when authors bring the swoon. But only when it either adds something to the story or aids the development of a character. A romance shouldn’t just be thrown in as an afterthought. I couldn’t get behind Audrey and Ed because it seemed really forced and rushed. Also, Audrey was kind of a tease. Even though she has good taste in films…

Best Friends.
I loved Marv and Richie. One of my greatest weakness in life (I do have a few) is a boy who defends his run-down car to the death, so Marv and his blue Falcon was like cat nip to me. So many of Marv and Ed’s exchanges made me laugh so loudly and I could just imagine boys their age talking like that.
But my Marv keeps his cards close to his chest, I don’t want to give anything away but Marv’s message was my favourite part of the whole book. It came at the point in the book where I had pretty much written it off, so I was completely surprised when I found myself being a bit choked up!
I also really liked Richie but I just wished he had been in it a bit more because I think his story line was great. I also LOVED that he had a Jimi Hendrix tattoo on his arm... that looked like Richard Pryor. Hahaaa.
I love authors that don’t just let their secondary characters stand around in the background, leaning against the wall and having a cigarette break.

Theme Tune.

Shape of my Heart- Sting.

I don't mind admitting that I love a good metaphor but I feel like I was cheated a little on that front by this book, so I’ve chosen a song brimming with metaphor. And it’s all linked to card suits as well! It's like it was written for this very moment.

Recommended For.

People who haven’t read The Book Thief… your high expectations will be dashed. DASHED I SAY. People who play cards. People who have always wondered whether driving a taxi is more glamorous than it seems. People who will not hear a word against their beloved ride even if it is a danger to humanity. People who like Zola Budd. People who like books that are a mixture of The Christmas Carol and PS. I love you… except not as good as the former and not as painful as the latter. People who have always wanted to find themselves in the middle of a mystery with anonymous clues being dropped off at their door. People who have always been too nervous to give their dog caffeine but have always been tempted… just to see what happens.

You can also read the review for this book and others and a whole lot of other exciting stuff on my blog here.
Profile Image for Ivana - Diary of Difference.
560 reviews712 followers
December 24, 2021
I got this book from the library, just because I got the cover. I didn't see who wrote it or what it's called. After I finished the last page, and read the author's biography, I realised it's the author of The Book Thief, a book I have bought and adore. Then I realised why I loved the main character. He reminds a lot to the boy I love, and Audrey resembles on me. What I loved the most about this book was the message the boy gives to all those people, and for no particular reason. I loved the symbolism with the aces. Perfect book. I even enjoyed it more then the book thief. Thank you, Markus, for making me think about becoming a better person. Great job ♥
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,738 reviews1,468 followers
November 14, 2016
If you pass your mouse over the star choices, 1 star reads "did not like it"! This does not necessarily mean it is a terrible book, only that the reviewer did not like it. People like different things, right?! This book did not fit me . Hopefully, by explaining my reaction others will be better able to decide if they will like the book or not.

Life isn't as simple or as sweet as it is drawn here.

This is my primary complaint in a nutshell.

I must clarify; the message is sweet and simplified, even if some of the book’s events are quite disturbing.

This book teaches a lesson. And what is that? People should live life to the fullest. Appreciate it. Enjoy it. Do something with it. We mustn't be complacent. We mustn't be bystanders. We must dare to put ourselves out on a limb for others. Of course I agree, and of course we all tend to forget. I am not debating the truth of the message but rather the way in which the message is conveyed. It is this that is childish. I am fine with giving the book to young adults, but I prefer gritty over sweet and I don't appreciate simplification.

The characters are around nineteen or twenty years old. I felt they acted even younger, but had they been younger two of them could not have driven taxis as they do here in the story. Do you remember the allure, the appeal of sex when you were a teen? Again, it is for this age group the book is directed.

Both the ending and the entire book is unrealistic, concocted and too simplified making it childish in tone. The story is drawn as a mystery. The things that happen just would not happen! I would recommend the book to young teenagers not looking for realism, who love mysteries and a dash of romance.

The audiobook is narrated by Australian Marc Aden Gray. The story is set in the vicinity of Sydney in the year 2002. While the dialect does fit the story it just didn’t appeal to me. Australian slang is used. Keep in mind I do not let the narration influence my rating of the book. I gave the narration two stars.

I have given the author's The Book Thief 4 stars.
Profile Image for emma.
1,823 reviews48.6k followers
August 16, 2022
i don't remember a thing about this book, and i know it kind of annoyed me, and it definitely wasn't as good as the book thief, but...

it broke me out of a minor reading slump i was in once 6 years ago and therefore i have to be eternally, deeply, permanently grateful to it forever and always.

part of a series i'm doing in which i'm half-heartedly reviewing books i read a long time ago
Profile Image for Read with Sandee ・❥・.
645 reviews1,298 followers
October 19, 2016
“Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of.”

Marcus Zusak. You are such an unbelievably talented writer. I'm sure you already know that. You write with so much passion. With so much thought in the words you use and how you use them. There was no crappy circumlocution (which I hate by the way), there was just simple words that conveys a deeper meaning. Zusak is indeed a magnificent storyteller.

"Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are."

I am the Messenger shows us the reality in life, despite the hardships that we face every day, there would be that day where everything will be right. Also, how everyone is not just another somebody. Everything we do, will have a direct or indirect effect to those people around us. This was a lesson Ed (the main character) learned.


The story follows Ed, who was an underage cab driver, until he becomes a hero. He became a local hero after he accidentally stops the robber when he was trying to escape. After the said incident, he received the first ace on his mail. With that was instructions, or more of addresses of places he should go. What they were for, he had no clue. He only started to get what the sender wants him to do, after he visted the first house. Ed becomes the messenger. But he was sure, that whoever sent him these aces made a mistake of choosing him.

He doesn't believe he could help the people he was sent to help.
He doesn't believe he could, because he couldn't even help himself.

But there was no mistake, he was the right man for the job... The question was... Who sent them?


There a lot of supporting characters here, but I think I'll be focusing on the main ones in my opinion.


“My full name’s Ed Kennedy. I’m nineteen. I’m an underage cabdriver. I’m typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city—not a whole lot of prospects or possibility. That aside, I read more books than I should, and I’m decidedly crap at sex and doing my taxes. Nice to meet you.”

Ed was not your typical hero. He wasn't the brooding or panty-dropping type that are mostly on YA and NA books. He was plain. He was ordinary. And he knows that. He hasn't done anything remarkable in his life... until now.

I think Mr. Zusak's characterization of Ed was brilliant. You see him grow throughout the book. You see him struggle. You see him start to see the world with new eyes. It was beautiful. I see why he chose a character like Ed to portray the main role. He wanted to show his readers that you don't have to be somebody to make a difference. You don't have to be rich, you don't have to be a successful person, you don't have to be popular - you just have to be the person who wants to make a difference. And as the story unfolds itself, you will see that difference with Ed and to those people whose life he touched.

Ed's voice was honest. You'll read about him feeling bad about himself not being able to do anything right - which I think most of us could relate to.

The Sender

Oh boy.

He was definitely a big surprise. My mouth was hanging open. I could not believe what Mr. Zusak did with him. You only meet the sender towards the end of the book. You'll meet him, but you'll have to guess who he is. At first, it would be unclear, because you've never met him. But as you go and read everthing he has to say, you'll see what I mean.

"And if a guy like you can stand up and do what you did for all those people, well, maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of.".

For me, this line right there, was the best lesson I got from this book. Towards the end, you'll realize that he made Ed the message, not the messenger. We are not just a somebody, we are all a someone. I hope that made sense. We may think that what we do, are insignificant to someone else, but that's not true. We could affect other people's lives, for the better or for the worse, it is out choice. We have to make that choice.


This book is one I will highly recommend to everyone. I know I didn't rate it a perfect 5, because of some reasons. Like there were times that I got bored, that I got upset with some of Ed's thoughts... and a bunch of other stuff... but those are very minor things. Not even worth mentioning really. I know it's silly but, I can't rate a book a perfect 5 if there were some things I didn't like about it. So there. Hence, the 4 stars.

However, the message of this book, was so pure. Believe in what you can do. This book is an encouragement, for those people who are losing hope, for those who feel their life is going nowhere, for those who thinks their stuck on where they are, for those who feel that they couldn't help others because they couldn't even help themselves. Ed was the perfect example of how this is not true.

I did tear up a little bit towards the end. For those of you who have been following my reviews, I am a real cry baby when it comes to books like these. It's not overly emotional, but because I could relate to most parts of the book, it pulled a few heartstrings. I felt the sincerity of Mr. Zusak words. I feel that for the author, the message that he wants to convey is more important than the fame or money he will be receiving if this book becomes popular.

I couldn't stress enough, how much I love and adore this book. I would recommend it to anyone who are looking for a read that will leave you thinking about life, reality, yourself, others, and a bunch of other things in between.

Will definitely be looking forward for more of Mr. Zusak's books.
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