I’ve already made quite clear how much I loved Zusak’s The Book Thief. I’ve just finished his previous release, I Am the Messenger (published originally as The Messenger in Australia). The Book Thief was no fluke, I Am the Messenger was another brilliant book.
It’s the story of a 19 year old underage taxi driver in Australia named Ed Kennedy. Ed helps apprehend a bank robber, and soon after receives a mysterious piece of mail: an Ace of Diamonds with three times and addresses written on it. From there, the story unfolds to engaging and satisfying effect. I won’t say anything else about the plot, spoilers are sad.
Zusak writes such literate and subtly poetic prose. His pacing aids the reader in entering the mind of the narrator, whether that narrator is Death or a directionless 19 year old cab driver. All of his characters in I Am the Messenger are wonderfully ordinary, I feel like I went to high school with these people, aside from the accents that is.
The thing about Zusak I find the most remarkable is his ability to write books about hope and redemption that feel believable in the real world. For all the beauty in his books, they never come across as precious or overly sentimental.
His books are certainly entertaining, fun reads. They’re so much more than that though. They quite honestly make me want to be a better person, and somehow also convince me I truly can be. Hell, they might even help me on my way toward actually becoming a better person. For me, this is proof positive of how formational fiction can be.
I think Zusak’s work affects me so much because he seems to truly want to believe that hope can mean something, while never ignoring the absolutely terrible shit that happens all over the world every day.
I think everyone should read this book.