Friday, June 20, 2014

I Am the Messenger

I Am the Messenger
By: Markus Zusak
I Am the Messenger
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That's when the first ace arrives in the mail. That's when Ed becomes the messenger.
Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?

I doubted this book. I doubted it so hard. But I absolutely freaking should not have. I shouldn't have doubted Markus Zusak to pull off such a weird concept. I had to let this review sit in my mind for  few days, trying to gather exactly how this book affected me, how it wowed me.
This book is so raw. Raw in the best way, in the most beautiful way. I loved every minute of it, every strange and interesting and heartfelt minute. This book succeeded in format as much as it succeeded in prose. I loved how episodic this book felt, but it's all connected in beautiful ways, both apparent and clouded.
The prose is beautiful, as well. Though I didn't expect anything less from Markus Zusak. I mean, this man can WRITE. He took mundane things and made them beautiful, just like he took bizarre things and made them beautiful. And he made me care about these characters, obnoxious, screwed-up, and frustrating as they were. I still cared. I still cared a crapload. Not only did I care about the central characters, because I also loved and felt for the people that Ed was helping. They filled this book with humanity and heartbreak and happiness.
I don't know that I can put into words how this book touched me. It felt life-changing while I was reading it. It still feels life-changing. It reminded me of the beauty in life, and the horror, and the confusion. Everyone you see has their life, their own secret struggles, and sometimes we can help them. Sometimes we're helping ourselves in the process. Every time I think about everything that happened in this book, everything that it managed to put into words, my mind gets blown again and again by the beauty and the truth of this book.
I love that this was a glimpse at so many lives, and so many circumstances, and how all of these near strangers interacted and lived around one another, and how they lived hidden from one another.

I had one issue with this book, and it's more of a desire than an actual problem. I think the ending was a bit convoluted, and I'm still a bit confused about the whole thing. But I know that was the point of the mystery. It was strange and purposefully so.
Have I mentioned that the premise for this book is one of the coolest I've ever encountered (including fantasy books). It's so utterly unique, and it pulls it off. It pulls it off without any tropes or any clichés. It stood on its own, a beautiful story in its own right.

I don't know what else to say about this book. It's takes on large-scale themes in such an intimate sort of story. It's mysterious and intriguing, but at the same time it's grounded in real heart. I loved that, while this book is so, so, so different from The  Book Thief, I could tell it was written by the same person. The way he uses language, sometimes simplistic language, to get across such important emotions. It's absolutely stunning.


"Our footsteps run, and I don't want them to end. I want to run and laugh like this forever. I want to avoid any awkward moment when the realness of reality sticks its fork into our flesh, leaving us standing there, together. I want to stay here, in this moment, and never go to other places, where we don't know what to say or what to do."

"...but I guess it's true - big things are often just small things that are noticed."

"This isn't about words. It's about glowing lights and small things that are big."

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

"Already, I know that all of this will stay with me forever. It'll haunt me, but I also fear it will make me feel grateful. I say fear because at times I really don't want this to be a fond memory until it's over. I also fear that nothing really ends at the end. Things just keep going as long as memory can wield its ax, always finding a soft part in your mind to cut through and enter."

"If I'm ever going to be okay, I'll have to earn it."

"I'd rather chase the sun than wait for it."

"If I ever leave this place" - I swallow - "I'll make sure I'm better here first."

"It's impeccable how brutal the truth can be at times. You can only admire it."

"Usually, we walk around constantly believing ourselves. "I'm okay," we say. "I'm all right." But sometimes the truth arrives on you, and you can't get it off. That's when you realize that sometimes it isn't even an answer - it's a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced."

"If a guy like you can stand up and do what you did, then maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of."

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