Book: Mark Zusak. I am the Messenger. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Mystery
Audience: Grades 9-12
Summary: Ed never saw himself as anything but ordinary. At the age of 19 he is a taxi driver, terrible at sex, drinks coffee with his beloved dog, hopelessly in love with his best friend audrey, and never went to school after high school. After receiving the first of 4 aces from an unknown person he finds himself trying to save those who are relatively helpless. After helping many strangers find happiness in situations that are not ideal he receives a card revolving around his small group of friends and the problems they face he was never aware of. Through the help of his friends he gained a lot of confidence he never had before and found out his friends are more important than he had ever imagined.
Self-confidence: At the beginning of the novel Ed had no confidence, and considered himself to be mediocre and going no where in life. While each card appeared he seemed to gain more confidence in himself, though sometimes tough with the tasks that were given to him. He expressed his love for his best friend Audrey throughout the novel and as the novel persisted and he grew as a character he acted upon his feelings instead of pushing them to the side like he had done in the past. By the end of the novel he appeared to be a whole new person, he saw himself as much more than mediocre and gained confidence in his ability as a human. By helping those who were not in ideal situations he achieved the feeling of being useful and not just “a stupid human” like her had believed he was before.
Friendship: At the beginning of the novel he took his friends for granted. Though he let his friends in slowly on the cards he was receiving and in small doses he kept most of his life throughout the “game” he has been chosen for. The 4 of them never seem to open up to each other but once a 4th ace is revealed they learn secrets about each other they never knew before. By the end of the book Ed comes to the realization that his friends mean more to him then he ever realized; also they need him as much as he needs them.
Connections: I haven’t read many mystery novels but i do connect this to the novels that I read where the main characters grow throughout the novel. In Will Grayson, Will Grayson you saw a similar growth throughout the novel for both of the Will Grayson. Both of the main characters in these novels have low self esteem in the beginning of the novels, by the end they become more confident. Also, the theme of friendship is prominent in both of these novels. They both took their closest friends for granted and in the end realized how important they were.
Reactions: I loved this novel. I had never read a mystery novel before this so I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not but I found it to be very intriguing. I liked how it wasn’t straight forward and there was always a new twist around the corner. I look forward to reading more mystery novels in the future!!!
Reception: A reader loved this book because of the detail and the way the messages were given to ed:
The thing that I most enjoyed about the book was how the author really went into detail about how Ed thought about being the messenger and how he felt around Audrey.
I also enjoyed how he found the people to give the messages to. For example, “Say a prayer at the stones of home” meaning to go to the huge stones in the river. He played on the stones when he was a child. When he went their he found three names engraved into the rock.
I think the story might of been improved in the ending. In the blurb the final question is “Who’s behind Ed’s mission?” and I don’t think that you really find out who it is. I thought that it was a great set-up for a big cliffhanger but it was a disappointment.
Another reader said they enjoyed the book because of how original and unlike anything else you would normally read it is:
What I enjoyed most about the book was the originality of it. The storyline was great and I really like the way everything links together. My favourite section in the whole book would have to be the section with Father O’reilly. I enjoyed the way he is displayed as a character. I found it humorous how the author twists the common perception of a priest. Instead of being all holy and disciplined, Father O’reilly swears, shouts and is, in some cases, slightly disrespectful.
I think that the aspect of the book that could be improved most is the reality of the book. It seems quite unlikely that the string of events that occur would all happen to the one person. The timing of Ed’s “adventures” would have to be a miracle. Everything just happens exactly at the right time and it doesn’t seem to be realistic to me. I don’t mean to say this about everythnig that happens, but just some events are highly unlikely.
Overall, I found the book highly enjoyable and would recommend it to anyone.