The plot of this book is quite strange, but I really enjoyed reading the story. Ed Kennedy drives a cab to earn money, a job he got by lying about his age, and plays cards with his three best friends, Ritchie, Marv and Audrey. He loves Audrey, but she does not want to love anyone; she prefers meaningless physical relationships to the pain of loving someone and the fear of loss. At the beginning of the book, the three friends are all stuck in monotonous, accomplishment-free lives without any motivation to change. After Ed helps stop a bank robbery mostly by accident, his life begins to change with the arrival of a playing card in his mailbox. The ace of diamonds has a list of addresses and times written on it. He discovers that each one is a mission to fulfill. For his journey in the book to be complete, he has to complete the challenges on all the aces and the joker. Ed grows as an individual because of this experience and so do his friends; this strange incident gives them back some momentum and desire for improvement. The ending of the book was a bit weak; I might have preferred not to have a resolution than to have the joker section go the way it did. The book points to the power of the human spirit and suggests that even the most mundane of us have the power to change the world and help people in both small and large ways.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading I Am The Messenger. Markus Zusak demonstrates himself as a master of character development and creating a heavily layered plot. Zusak makes many interesting choices in his crafting of this novel and there are often times where the reader finds themselves making inferences about twists and foreshadowing that has been skillfully wrapped into the plot.
The use of cards and missions set forth for Zusak's protagonist, Ed Kennedy, keeps the reader gripped with the constant action in the novel. Each mission has its own mystery, climax, and resolution, making it nearly impossible to find a dull situation in the plot.
One of the greater appeals of this novel is the ability for the reader to identify with the protagonist. Ed Kennedy is presented as an everyday normal guy who under extraordinary circumstances rises above himself and accomplishes feats that other characters within the novel would not believe him to be capable of (excluding Audery).
SPOILER: Stop here if you have not read the novel, the rest of this review is a criticle take on Zusak's ending, it is revileing and only meant for those who have already read this book.
There has been some controversy surrounding the ending of the novel. The confusion lies within the narrative discourse, or focalization that Zusak chooses. Through all of the novel, except the ending Zusak uses a fixed interal focalization, focused on Ed Kennedy, the protagonist. As we meet the final character to be introduced something very strange happens. The true narrator is revieled to us. We see that though a fixed internal focalization was used, this character changes narrative discourse and jumbles the reader's mind because we see that this fixed internal focalization has been masking the true focalization, external focalization. The final character reviels himself as the author/narrative voice and upon doing so the novel abrubtly removes the mask of fixed internalization and bares the external focalization. The reader no longer gets to feel the thoughts of Ed Kennedy, we can only make an inference of his feelings or ideas based on the dialoge exchanged between him and this new character. Simply put the final character reviels himself as the author of the novel, leaving Ed Kennedy baffled and wondering if he is real. Like in all novels though, the characters are real, not real people, but real ideas. This is the point Zusak is trying to show his audience. The unraveling of this ending creates a dynamic in literature that is not often seen. We all know that a narrator can be a character within the novel, but Zusak tests the limits of conventions as he shows that the author of the novel can also, at times, be a character.
This was a beautiful idea for a book. As most of Zusak's book, it was written unquiqely (sp?). The only problem i had was the end, It seemed patched up, and roughly put together, as if to finish quickly. The end was a dissapointment in comparison to the rest of the book/
How would you react if you were told you would soon change the world?
Ed Kennedy: Underage cab driver from a lousy town, going nowhere in a hurry. I suppose he has his friends, Audrey, the girl he loves, Ritchie, the quiet one, and Marv, the guy who just won't shut up about his disgrace of a car.
Then the first card comes.
I Am The Messenger is a thought provoking story that shows how anyone can take the worst of situations and turn them around. I've read Zusak's work before and he doesn't fail to capture the reader in a spellbinding adventure.