I Am the Messenger – Markus Zusak

51Qn-Z31z-L__SX322_BO1,204,203,200_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?

Before I start, just to note that I’ve used the blurb from the book’s Goodreads page instead of Amazon (which is what I usually do), because the Amazon blurb makes it sound like a romance novel.  Nothing wrong with that, except it isn’t.  I mean, there is romance in it, but anyone expecting a romance novel specifically would be disappointed and probably a bit weirded out.

I absolutely loved this book.  I devoured it in great satisfying glomps.  I lived it.  I dreamed it.

It won’t be for everyone.

This is one of those stand-out, very unique books, that defy neat genre labels and reader expectations.  Like Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, there is a plot and character, and these things are well-written and very enjoyable, but they aren’t the whole of the point here.  This is reading for both entertainment and food for thought.  There are deeper ideas being explored about how we live our lives and relate to those around us.

That was what I personally loved most about the novel.  That feeling of interconnectedness with the people around us.  That we can have a positive effect, and make a difference, even in the lives of total strangers, just by opening our eyes and minds to their needs.

I didn’t expect a lot from this novel because I loved The Book Thief by the same author, as another of those stand-out unusual books, so thought that this would either be too similar (it wasn’t) or not as good (wrong again…I actually liked it better!).

Again personally, lists and order appeal greatly to my personality-type, so the lists of names/addresses on the aces really appealed to me and worked to move the plot along and hold it all together.  In this way I found it quite similar to The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, with its progression through set events and the learning curve of the main character.

The ending sets a different tone from the preceding book and I am aware that it has gathered criticism from some who otherwise enjoyed the book, but I both ‘got it’, and liked it.  In fact I can’t really see another satisfying way that the book could have ended, as any other character reveal would have necessarily been anticlimactic after the build-up to that point.

I can definitely recommend this one for something a bit different and thoughtful, but still entertaining.  And I think it is a great pick for a book group read because there is plenty to talk about, whether it is to your personal taste or not!

It’s not a big thing, but I guess it’s true–big things are often just small things that are noticed.

– Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger

For more from Markus Zusak, check out his website here, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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