“Ellen R said: 4 stars
Nineteen-year-old cabdriver Ed Kennedy leads a quiet life driving his cab, playing cards and drinking with his friends and sharing an apartment with his coffee-drinking dog, Doorman. His father is dead of alcoholism and his mother can barely stand to be around the son who reminds her so much of the drunken father. When he foils a bank robbery attempt (albeit by the world's most inept robber) he is labeled a local hero. Due to his new heroic status an unknown person begins to mail playing cards to Ed's home, each with adresses and times. Ed covertly visits the places listed at the designated times and soon realizes that he is meant to deliver a message to the people who live there. At times it takes him a while to figure out exactly what he is supposed to do for these people but sometimes it is clearly apparent. During the course of his messenger errands he stops a drunken bully from raping his wife every night; he befriends an elderly woman who thinks Ed is her long-dead husband; he brings a congregation back to a small parish church and a brother back to the priest who officiates there. Delivering each message helps Ed to realize that his life is worth so much more than he ever gave himself credit for and that if even he can accomplish these things then everyone is capable of greatness.
This book is designated YA but I do think the subject matter at times is rather advanced for the younger teen. The mysterious sender of the cards is revealed at the end of the book and it is a rather clever twist, although I don't think I quite understand why it was this particular person. Ed is a charming young man and his story is very enjoyable, at times very funny and very touching.
Coyotemusic said: 4 stars
I love Markus Zusak. He has a way of putting pen to paper on the widest range of emotions. He knows people.
The main character's dog is called "The Doorman."
"I find that all I want to do is make in inside and hug the Doorman. I hope he hugs me back."
Who hasn't felt that? That moment where you're so down and you have nothing to look forward to but your dog. I don't know, I just think it gets you right in the gut.
Zusak writes with tenderness and humor and insight, and I can't wait to read his next book.
You can't compare this at all to The Book Thief, but it's fun (if a bit flawed) and any Zusak is good Zusak, and I'd recommend it.
Cora R said: 4 1/2 stars
Ed is a perfectly ordinary person living an ordinary life until one day he gets a playing card in the mail. The card has three addresses on it and soon Ed finds that people at those addresses need something. As Ed pushes himself to help others, both strangers and friends, he become more than ordinary. I really enjoyed reading this novel. I really liked all the characters and liked the variety of tasks that Ed tackled to complete the cards. I really appreciated the message that the author was trying to send and liked how he could point out the beauty of the everyday and ordinary. I am still not sure how I feel about the big reveal at the end though, I think I will have to ponder it for a few more days.
kolibri said: 4 stars
It's an inspirational read for young adults. Ed is a cab driver, he hasn't gone through any more education after he left school. He likes to play cards and he's got a stinky old dog called Bouncer. Someday he receives his first ace, a playing card, with mail containing three names. As he gets to know more about the persons beind the names, he recognizes they need his help. The story about a boy, helping people he barely knows. So at the end he might get helped himself.
Sometimes I felt really near to the protagonists way of looking at the world, which is quite possible because I'm nearly the same age as him. Now and then I thought Ed came away too easily, that the twist could have been more hard to solve. But I enjoyed Zusak's second piece of work and will give it 4 stars.
rowanthea said: 4 stars
When I picked up this book I had no idea he had written the Book Thief. Since the Book Thief is supposed to be better I will have to read it soon. I loved this book.
Ed Kennedy is a cab driver living on the wrong side of town with no prospects for a better life. Everything changes because of a bank robbery gone wrong. He captures the robber and becomes a hero for a few days. Shortly after his 15 minutes of fame, an ace of diamonds with 3 addresses and times appears in the mailbox. This is when the story takes off. Ed is challenged to help change others lives sometimes in big ways and others as simple as an ice cream cone. The characters are larger then life and easy to love.
In other reviews I've read some people were disappointed with the ending. I can see that but I'm not one of them. I found the ending very refreshing but a bit rushed. Great book.
Kentucky Reader said: 5 stars
This is by the author of The Book Thief, one of my all-time favorite books, so I read it hoping I wouldn't be disappointed if Messenger didn't live up to expectations. I wasn't at all disappointed. This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.
Ed, the narrator and main character, is a 19-year-old pretending to be 20 so he can legally work in his dead-end job driving a cab. He's an underachiever who lives ialone in a rented shack with a smelly dog. Nearly all of his spare time is spent playing cards with three equally underachieving long-time friends -- Marv, Ritchie and Audrey. He likes to read, his father was kind but has recently died of drinking too much, and his mother makes it clear she doesn't believe Ed can do anything right, while she has nothing but praise for Ed's two sisters and his older brother, who is studying to be a lawyer.
The four friends happen to be in a bank when a comically inept robbery takes place and Ed captures the would-be robber. From there, Ed begins to receive cryptic messages printed on playing cards that are clues to people who need help. Some lead him to nice people who just need a random act of kindness, but some put him in danger by leading him to violent people. I was reminded of the stories in Michael Landon's TV series Highway to Heaven.
Ed is a very interesting character. Even his coffee-drinking dog is interesting. He also helps some very interesting characters, including a lonely elderly woman who has outlived her husband by 60 years and believes Ed to be her young Jimmy. Another one of my favorites is when Ed feels the need to pack a church in a slum neighborhood. His methods are funny and irreverent but highly effective.
It quickly becomes apparent that the person Ed is helping the most is himself, as begins to see his own worth. Eventually, he helps his friends see their worth, too.
This actually a very spiritual story. I didn't realize to what extent until I finished it and took time to mull it over. There's a lot to mull over in this book.
Tien H said: 5 stars
Ed Kennedy (Just Ed) is as ordinary a boy as you can get. He's 19, lives in a shack with a 17yo dog, The Doorman, and a taxi driver. One spontaneous heroic act in catching a bank robber changed his life. He began receiving mysterious instructions to help others in the neighbourhood, each with their own unique problems / issues and therefore require Ed's own ingenuity to 'fix' their problems.
I really enjoyed that it kept me constantly engaged whilst being a very easy book to read. The message at the end is crystal clear that I think everybody should read this book. Just because you're an ordinary person, it doesn't mean that you can't help to make the world a better place to live in.
Sara W said: 5 Stars + Heart.
If The Book Thief is truly better than this book, then I should be racing out tonight to buy it, as I Am the Messenger is a new favorite. I have barely closed the book and I already want to start over again at the beginning, only this time taking it slower, savoring the words and allowing each message to fully sink in. I started this novel this morning, choosing it as it was the January selection for my face to face book club. I never imagined that I would blow through it in an afternoon, literally unable to put it down. I neglected all I had to do today, though thankfully not my children, so that I could continue to read this superb novel. My husband may not think it was the right decision, but there is no doubt in my mind that it was.
Ed is an ordinary young man living on the wrong side of the tracks working a dead end job and playing cards with his slacker friends. His father recently died from alcoholism, all his siblings have left for the city, and his mother hates him. All he has is his faithful dog, The Doorman. For one brief moment, he stands up and does something, foiling an inept bank robber and becomes a local hero.
He soon begins to receive strange messages, written on the faces of playing cards. Unable to shake them off, he follows them where they lead and changes not only his life, but that of 12 other people. Some of these messages are simple, Christmas lights, running shoes, and ice cream cones. Others are painful and violent, teaching loyalty to two violent brothers and saving a woman and her daughter from a life of fear and terror. Each of these messages changes Ed imperceptibly, teaching more about himself then he ever could have imagined.
Mary B said: 1 star
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I can't believe I survived this wretched thing. Note I've given a few 2 star reviews but I found some redeeming qualities in them. This had absolutely none. I was encouraged by the fact that this young adult book featured profanity and some sex. I don't really understand the American perspective on forbidding references to these normal things to children, but it's my culture so I live with it. It just struck me as kind of a marketing problem but not something that couldn't be salvaged by a story worthy of adults. And then there's that. A young-ish man stops a bank robbery. Shortly thereafter he starts receiving playing cards that instruct him to do various good deeds, etc. All part of being enlightened. And the ending was sooooo corny. The whole thing was corny. I would not recommend this for children, not for the swearing, but because it can only teach them to think Nicholas Sparks is actual literature.
diamondgirl said: I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Nineteen year old Ed Kennedy doesn't have much going for him. He drives a taxi, is in love with a girl who doesn't love him, spends his spare time playing cards with friends and is bad at sex. After stopping a robbery at a bank he and his friends were in, he starts receiving playing cards in the mail. Aces to be exact, and written on each card is three things. Three tasks he must complete, messages he must deliver, and in each of these tasks he finds that maybe he isn't so useless after all.
Not as good as The Book Thief. Some of the places he had to go and messages he had to deliver were pretty hard to read about, but the book is written in a way that keeps you reading to see what happens and how everything is going to play out. It was a 5 star book until the end. It totally confused me and I had to reread it a couple of times. I'm still not too sure I understood it.
sleekfeline said: 4 stars
Ed Kennedy is a taxi driver who enjoys hanging out with his friends and playing cards. His life becomes more interesting after he unwittingly becomes the hero in a botched robbery attempt. It seems this has put him on someone's radar. That mysterious someone has begun sending Ed cryptic messages written on playing cards. Ed must decipher what they mean and take appropriate action to save folks from their everyday lives. Ed is on a journey of discovery, not only of the meaning of the messages on the cards, but of himself. He finds he has more strength and more gumption than he thought.
Another great read from Zusack. I love his writing style, it just flows so effortlessly. I wasn't sure where this book was going to begin with, but I like where it ended up. ”