Tuesday

I Am the Messenger

I Am the Messenger
by Markus Zusak
YA fiction. 357 pp.
Knopf. 2005.

Pat Castelli aptly summarizes this book as follows:

This is an exciting adventure/mystery story about a young man, Ed, who is going nowhere until presented with a series of challenges that help make the world a better place. The foremost question in Ed's mind is about who is giving the orders, someone who has godlike knowledge. The resolution of that mystery felt like a cheat to me, and thus was a disappointing ending to a really good book. Cautions: very foul language, though much of it is Australian, sexuality (mostly wishful thinking) and violence that includes rape.

By and large, I'm going to have to agree with her sentiment.

One of the things I find interesting about the Printz award is how open it seems to be. For example, the Newbery and Caldecott must each go to American authors. The Printz hasn't been limited thus. Also, the books don't really need to be exactly YA per se. That was what I found most difficult about getting into this novel. I really don't think it's YA. I could point out specific identifying features that might lend to this (the protagonist is 20 and far removed from high school), but the difficulty with YA is that, when it comes down to it, there aren't hard and fast rules. Mostly, this just didn't feel YA. At the same time, it didn't feel adult. So I wasn't sure how to peg it.

Once I got over that, I did find it to be a largely enjoyable story. You really grow to truly love Ed as he faces the tasks. And the format (as in the chapter numbering) was also unique and enjoyable, helping add to the tension of the novel.

But like Pat, I didn't like the ending. It was somewhat of a copout. And I hated the last line. Hated, hated, hated it. Then again, I hate weak final words. There's a good chance that were I the editor, I would have cut the last three sentences. Of course, ending it there doesn't necessarily make sense, but it has more strength.

I do recommend this book, though I would caution you to watch for the profanity, because it's endless and doesn't really contribute anything to the plot or characterization.

2 comments:

Th. said...

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(Still cherishin'.)

Absent-minded Secretary said...

I love that you recognize things like unique chapter number. I never notice things like that unless they are pointed out to me.