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
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.