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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

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? A 2005 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and recipient of five starred reviews, I Am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love.…

I am the Messenger

by Markus Zusak

Overall Book Review:

New York Times Bestselling author Markus Zusak delivers another touching and powerful work in I am the Messenger. Set in suburban Australia, readers are instantly introduced to nineteen year-old Ed. Ed is a loser in every sense of the word, yet unexpectedly and quite mysteriously, he begins receiving cryptic messages. What happens next is gripping and astonishing. Who knew this hopeless cab driver could bring tears to my eyes and inspire me to do good? 

The novel’s unique storytelling makes Messenger nearly impossible to put down. Zusak’s voice, with his strong personifications, emphasis on mood and clever use of metaphor, is remarkable. Ed’s whole journey is crafted to be gritty and realistic, yet Zusak still manages to make the story funny and oftentimes irreverent. While I really enjoyed the storyline, I felt the excessive profanity and sex detracted from the plot to the extent that it affected the overall reading experience of the book.  Otherwise, with a few twists and turns, plus an unexpected ending, I am the Messenger manages to hold its own against Zusak’s famous The Book Thief.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Knopf Books for Young Readers


Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 40 religious exclamations, 61 mild obscenities, 4 religious profanities, 43 derogatory names, and 61 scatological words

Violence/Gore: Two men threaten a character; a gunman threatens several people; two men break into a character’s house, punch him and leave him unconscious; a character physically assaults a minor; a group of minors attack an adult; a character is struck by an angry father; a character dreams about a woman in a hangman’s noose.

Sex/Nudity: Characters kiss each other on the lips or cheek; a character comments on the size of a girl’s bust and figure; a character alludes to having sex with her boyfriend; a character often fantasizes about having sex with a girl he likes as well as a prostitute; a character alludes to having sex with his girlfriend; a character references his friends’ sex lives; a character learns his mom has committed adultery; a character finds two individuals with “their hands all over each other”; sexual activity without explicit detail is reported between an adult character and her boyfriend; a character becomes pregnant out of wedlock; a man frequently rapes his wife (two incidents are detailed, the other times are alluded to).

Mature Subject Matter:

Identity, familial struggles, friendship, love, unwanted pregnancy, rape.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Almost every character in this novel drinks and smokes; several characters often get drunk.

Overall Book Rating
Profanity/Language
Rating:
10
10
Violence/Gore
Rating:
3
10
Sex/Nudity
Rating:
7
10

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.