Pike 9s - 2018 discussion

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Required Summer Reading

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Pike School Library | 3 comments Mod
Hi - the summer is flying by. Don't forget to read I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak before school starts. See you in September!


message 2: by Evansaks (new)

Evansaks | 1 comments The premise of The Messenger, by Markus Zusak, is that an underage taxi driver named Ed Kennedy is living an unfulfilling life, paralyzed by a anxiety which won’t let him explain himself to his best friend, Audrey, who he is infatuated with. However, one day Ed receives a playing card in the mail with addresses on it. These addresses led to people with specific problems which Ed could help fix. the premise of the book excited me. I felt that it would make it possible for there to be interesting and dynamic characters due to the fact that the protagonist would experience the lives of many secondary characters in a way that would be hard to replicate with a different premise. I also thought that the unique premise would make character development a primary focus of the book. I was expecting after reading the first chapter both of these strengths, however, I feel the potential was not fully met. The good parts, however, were good enough to counteract much of this disappointment I’m feeling. Specifically, through the consistently good humor and the subplots that were good, were excellent.

Many of the characters in The Messenger share a common problem, they are characters with one defining trait that is the only part of the character we learn about. Milla Johnson has only one characteristic that matters majorly to the story, she has a mental disorder which prevents her from recognizing faces and allows Ed to impersonate her betrothed who had died years earlier, Jimmy. Bernie, the man who owns the movie theater is even worse, his defining characteristic is that he owns a movie theater and likes movies, this should not be the entirety of a character.

These characters have very little initial substance, which could be excused if they were used primarily to develop Ed in a substantial and distinct way. Sophie likes running without shoes but runs in shoes during races anyway. Until Ed helps her realize that she doesn't need them to run in races and so she doesn't. Now, instead of being the girl that secretly runs without shoes on, she's the girl who runs without shoes on. This is not substantial character development. I also see no specific way that Sophie affected Ed. Her impact was indistinct and unnecessary for Ed’s progression as a character. Subplots like this one are common throughout the story and extend the story with boring and unimportant chapters.

The story would have benefited from combining the Milly and Sophie stories and put in a character that teaches Ed a specific lesson. A good example of a Subplot that did this well was the rapist subplot. It showed Ed that waiting would not help and inaction was waste. It also showed that Ed had the willpower to stand up to something he was scared of. And when Ed asked himself “Why can’t the world hear?”(41), he realized the most important lesson, the world didn't hear “Because it doesn’t care,”(41). This subplot is one of the most interesting and moving, not just because of the subject matter, but because of how it was handled.

The extreme difference in quality between subplots is frustrating. However, something that was consistent and positive was the humor which is sprinkled throughout the padding, which kept me reading through the most boring parts, and the compelling character building moments helping to release tension when needed and lifting the mood when appropriate.

The Messenger has great examples of how to develop a character, it has touching moments, but also several parts where the plot seemed to stagnate. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would read certain parts of it again with pleasure and would recommend the book. However, readers should slightly curb their expectations since the potential of the book isn't fully realized.


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