21 of 52 in my 2011 book blogging challenge.
I was disappointed in I Am the Messenger, but I believe I could have only been disappointed by this book in comparison to The Book Thief. This one will not make my list of top 5 favorite books ever, but it’s still a great book. It’s smart and funny and even inspiring. It just isn’t all of those things in the precisely brilliant combination that Zusak’s real masterpiece accomplishes.
The difference for me is that The Book Thief transcended categorization as a novel for adults verses young adults, and I Am the Messenger is clearly a young adult novel. That’s okay. We need good young adult fiction.
Zusak employs his own unique version of magical realism in I Am the Messenger, just as he does in The Book Thief. I was not quite as convinced this time, but I was willing to go along with it because I liked the characters and appreciated the lessons those characters were learning. I also appreciated the fact that amongst Zusak’s portrayal of the mundane reality of life as a young man without a clear idea of what his goals are for the future are these incredible moments of sheer humanity. Ed Kennedy, our 19-year-old protagonist learns to see the beauty in the people around him, and we learn right along with him.
If you are squeamish about language for your young adult readers, you might hold off on this one until they are a little older. Ed and his friends have the potty mouths worthy of any group of young men. Yet there is so much more to them than their words, and even they don’t understand this until they are tested and tried.
I did enjoy this book. It’s not The Book Thief, but then only one book is.