It took me a long time to write this review because I have a feeling that this is a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Nineteen-year-old Ed is a cabdriver who believes that he has achieved everything that he is going to achieve in his life. He lives in a shack with a smelly dog, plays cards with his friends at night, and doesn’t do much else. Then, one day, he inadvertently foils a bank robbery and becomes a minor celebrity. Soon after, playing cards start arriving in his mailbox with messages that he needs to deliver.
Markus Zusak’s other book, The Book Thief is one of my favorite YA novels ever. I think The Book Thief gave me such high expectations that this book could never live up to it. I wanted to like I Am The Messenger a lot more than I did. I think I would have liked it more if I hadn’t read The Book Thief first.
I do have to say that I love the way Markus Zusak writes. It’s poetic and distinctive. I could probably read 1000 of his books and never get sick of them.
I Am The Messenger has one of the funniest opening chapters I’ve ever read. It starts with Ed and his friends getting caught in the middle of a bank robbery, but they are so busy arguing about Ed’s friend’s useless car that they barely notice the robbery. Ed accidently helps the police catch the robber.
Ed is a good narrator. He’s an average guy who doesn’t have the best self-esteem. It’s easy to relate to him because he wants to do good things in the world and live a purposeful life, but he doesn’t know how. He feels stuck. The playing cards in his mailbox give him the push he needs to start making his life better.
My biggest issue with this book is that it feels repetitive. I flew through the beginning, but the middle took me a while. Ed spends most of the book doing nice things for people. It’s sweet, but not exactly gripping. I wanted more suspense. I also think some of the people overreacted to his good deeds. He bought a family some Christmas lights, and they practically made him a saint. Maybe I’m cynical, but some of the reactions are a little too over-the-top for me. I have a hard time believing them.
There is a huge twist at the end of the book, and it left me disappointed. While I understand the twist, it seems like a cop-out.
This definitely isn’t a bad book. I’m possibly being too harsh on it. It’s well-written, funny, and I love the Doorman, Ed’s dog. The book has an uplifting message about helping others and working to improve your life if you are unhappy with it. This book just didn’t quite live up to my (possibly unrealistic) expectations.