I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak: Book Review

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Cover of I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

4 Stars

Ed Kennedy is an underage cab driver with no prospects. He’s the very picture of your average young man. But someone has chosen him to carry out some tasks that require him to be anything but average.

I was incredibly nervous about reading this book after reading The Book Thief. That book immediately became my favorite. I knew there was no way this one could live up to it. But after starting Messenger, I realized that the books are so very different that there was no way and no need to compare them.

Basically, Zusak is telling us that we can all make a difference in other peoples’ lives. If ordinary Ed Kennedy can do it, so can we. And he makes it clear that it doesn’t really take a lot of effort to do so. Granted, Ed gets some huge assignments, but mostly they boiled down to taking the time to notice others and having the courage and the compassion to act on the needs he sees. “It’s not a big thing, but I guess it’s true–big things are often just small things that are noticed.”

While not as consistently beautiful as The Book Thief, (sorry, I can’t help it), there were moments of aching clarity and beauty in here. Zusak seems to be reminding us to look for the beauty in small, everyday moments.

“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.”

And that brings us to my biggest complaint. The short, one-sentence paragraphs drove me up the wall. There were passages like the one above every page or two, if not more often. I eventually overlooked it and saw it as Ed’s style, but at the beginning, it was killing me.

Overall, this was a quick read with a far-reaching message that I won’t quickly forget. Pick it up and start to notice what you can do for those around you.

Reviewed May 25, 2009

Read an excerpt.

Find author Markus Zusak on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy I Am the Messenger at

Friday Flashback Reviews, a feature at The Introverted Reader

Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

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  1. I listened to this one on audio this year and it has quickly become one of my favorite books of all time! I loved Ed and his genuine words!!

    I don't have the same complaint as you because I listened to the majority of it on audio!

  2. One of my most favorite characters of all time! As for the one sentence paragraphs… just think of the whole book as a poem. Cause it sort of is, right? 🙂

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