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I Am the Messenger

I Am the Messenger

4.4 407
by Markus Zusak

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By the author of the extraordinary international bestseller The Book Thief, this is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love. 
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,


By the author of the extraordinary international bestseller The Book Thief, this is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love. 
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?
This book is a 2005 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and recipient of five starred reviews.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In our Best Books citation, PW called this tale of a teenage Australian cabdriver who thwarts a bank robbery and sets off an intricate chain of events "compulsively readable." Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Ed Kennedy drives a taxi and is in love with his best friend, whom he is afraid to approach. He mourns his father's death and realizes he is a fairly useless human being with no ambition. That is before he unintentionally proves himself a hero at a bank robbery. After that, strange mysterious playing cards arrive periodically, urging and guiding him to help strangers and, later, those closest to him. Suddenly Ed is willing to be hurt and to risk everything to help people find what is important in their lives. He is not really sure why. This book is a mystery in itself. The organization is curious, the writing suspenseful, and the idea intriguing. These make it a close-to-perfect book--if it weren't for the flawed ending. Still, it is an engrossing read. 2005, Knopf, Ages 12 up.
—Susie Wilde
It is no wonder that Zusak's wild ride of a novel won the Children's Book Council of Australia 2003 Book of the Year for Older Readers and the Ethel Turner Prize in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards for 2003. This dense literary novel is heavy on plotting, secondary characters (including a great dog named The Doorman), and belated coming-of-age anguish, all pulled together with the dazzling first person, sometimes sentence-fragmented voice of Ed Kennedy. Nineteen-year-old Ed is a cabbie who seems more a passenger in life than a participant. After foiling a robbery, Ed gets his fifteen minutes of fame, and then the first card arrives. Ed receives playing cards, four aces and a joker, that contain an address or a clue to an address at which Ed will find a person in need. These situations vary, from a harried mother who merely needs an ice cream to a priest who needs his church filled to a brutal husband who needs to be killed, but in each case, Ed must figure out the message that he is called upon to deliver or the need he must fill. It is a book of small riddles and minor triumphs but also of crushing disappointment as the messages get closer to Ed's broken past and his loveable yet lacking friends. Although the curtain pulling at the book's finale is more of a whimper than a bang, Ed's journey into secret lives is so emotional and intellectually challenging that older readers will enjoy the trip. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Knopf, 368p., and PLB Ages 15 to 18.
—Patrick Jones
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, January 2005: Ed Kennedy, a hapless 19-year-old Australian cab driver, has a life that's going nowhere until he manages to foil a bank robbery. After this incident he starts to receive mysterious messages, written on playing cards, that send him to addresses where people need help: to a house where a husband comes home drunk every night and rapes his wife; to a home where a sweet if senile old woman is lonely and missing her dead husband; to the aid of a teenage runner who lacks confidence; to a church that needs a congregation. In the end, Ed is even sent to fix his friends' lives, and in the process of helping others discovers that he has now become "full of purpose rather than incompetence." But who is sending these messages to him, and why? The answer is surprising (though not entirely credible, I thought), but it's the journey, and Ed's narration, that will delight the reader, and perhaps provoke some thought, too, about the value of helping others. Originally published in Australia as The Messenger, this novel by the gifted young author of Fighting Ruben Wolfe and Getting the Girl received the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year Award. Told in the present tense by Ed, it's funny, engrossing, and suspenseful, and it will appeal to a wide audience. (Winner of the ALA Printz Award for Excellence.) KLIATT Codes: SA*—Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Random House, Knopf, 357p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Nineteen-year-old cabbie Ed Kennedy has little in life to be proud of: his dad died of alcoholism, and he and his mom have few prospects for success. He has little to do except share a run-down apartment with his faithful yet smelly dog, drive his taxi, and play cards and drink with his amiable yet similarly washed-up friends. Then, after he stops a bank robbery, Ed begins receiving anonymous messages marked in code on playing cards in the mail, and almost immediately his life begins to swerve off its beaten-down path. Usually the messages instruct him to be at a certain address at a certain time. So with nothing to lose, Ed embarks on a series of missions as random as a toss of dice: sometimes daredevil, sometimes heartwarmingly safe. He rescues a woman from nightly rape by her husband. He brings a congregation to an abandoned parish. The ease with which he achieves results vacillates between facile and dangerous, and Ed's search for meaning drives him to complete every task. But the true driving force behind the novel itself is readers' knowledge that behind every turn looms the unknown presence-either good or evil-of the person or persons sending the messages. Zusak's characters, styling, and conversations are believably unpretentious, well conceived, and appropriately raw. Together, these key elements fuse into an enigmatically dark, almost film-noir atmosphere where unknowingly lost Ed Kennedy stumbles onto a mystery-or series of mysteries-that could very well make or break his life.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this winner of the Australian Children's Book Award for Older Readers, 19-year-old Ed Kennedy slouches through life driving a taxi, playing poker with his buddies, and hanging out with his personable dog, Doorman. The girl he loves just wants to be friends, and his mother constantly insults him, both of which make Ed, an engaging, warm-hearted narrator, feel like a loser. But he starts to overcome his low self-esteem when he foils a bank robbery and then receives a series of messages that lead him to do good deeds. He buys Christmas lights for a poor family, helps a local priest, and forces a rapist out of town. With each act, he feels better about himself and builds a community of friends. The openly sentimental elements are balanced by swearing, some drinking and violence, and edgy friendships. Suspense builds about who is sending the messages, but readers hoping for a satisfying solution to that mystery will be disappointed. Those, however, who like to speculate about the nature of fiction, might enjoy the unlikely, even gimmicky, conclusion. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
The Book Thief is unsettling and unsentimental, yet ultimately poetic. Its grimness and tragedy run through the reader’s mind like a black-and-white movie, bereft of the colors of life. Zusak may not have lived under Nazi domination, but The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s Night. It seems poised to become a classic.” -USA Today
"Zusak doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but he makes his ostensibly gloomy subject bearable the same way Kurt Vonnegut did in Slaughterhouse-Five: with grim, darkly consoling humor.”
- Time Magazine
"Elegant, philosophical and moving...Beautiful and important."
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"An extraordinary narrative."
- School Library Journal, Starred
"Exquisitely written and memorably populated, Zusak's poignant tribute to words, survival, and their curiously inevitable entwinement is a tour de force to be not just read but inhabited."
- The Horn Book Magazine, Starred
"One of the most highly anticipated young-adult books in years."
- The Wall Street Journal

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.13(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.77(d)
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

I Am the Messenger

By Markus Zusak

Random House

Markus Zusak
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0375830995

Chapter One

the holdup

The gunman is useless.

I know it.

He knows it.

The whole bank knows it.

Even my best mate, Marvin, knows it, and he's more useless than the gunman.

The worst part about the whole thing is that Marv's car is standing outside in a fifteen-minute parking zone. We're all facedown on the floor, and the car's only got a few minutes left on it.

"I wish this bloke'd hurry up," I mention.

"I know," Marv whispers back. "This is outrageous." His voice rises from the depths of the floor. "I'll be getting a fine because of this useless bastard. I can't afford another fine, Ed."

"The car's not even worth it."


Marv looks over at me now. I can sense he's getting uptight. Offended. If there's one thing Marv doesn't tolerate, it's someone putting shit on his car. He repeats the question.

"What did you say, Ed?"

"I said," I whisper, "it isn't even worth the fine, Marv."

"Look," he says, "I'll take a lot of things, Ed, but . . ."

I tune out of what he's saying because, quite frankly, once Marv gets going about his car, it's downright pain-in-the-arse material. He goes on and on, like a kid, and he's just turned twenty, for Jesus' sake.

He goes on for another minute or so, until I have to cut him off.

"Marv," I point out,"the car's an embarrassment, okay? It doesn't even have a hand brake-it's sitting out there with two bricks behind the back wheels." I'm trying to keep my voice as quiet as possible. "Half the time you don't even bother locking it. You're probably hoping someone'll flog it so you can collect the insurance."

"It isn't insured."


"NRMA said it wasn't worth it."

"It's understandable."

That's when the gunman turns around and shouts, "Who's talkin' back there?"

Marv doesn't care. He's worked up about the car.

"You don't complain when I give you a lift to work, Ed, you miserable upstart."

"Upstart? What the hell's an upstart?"

"I said shut up back there!" the gunman shouts again.

"Hurry up then!" Marv roars back at him. He's in no mood now. No mood at all.

He's facedown on the floor of the bank.

The bank's being robbed.

It's abnormally hot for spring.

The air-conditioning's broken down.

His car's just been insulted.

Old Marv's at the end of his tether, or his wit's end. Whatever you want to call it-he's got the shits something terrible.

We remain flattened on the worn-out, dusty blue carpet of the bank, and Marv and I are looking at each other with eyes that argue. Our mate Ritchie's over at the Lego table, half under it, lying among all the pieces that scattered when the gunman came in yelling, screaming, and shaking. Audrey's just behind me. Her foot's on my leg, making it go numb.

The gunman's gun is pointed at the nose of some poor girl behind the counter. Her name tag says Misha. Poor Misha. She's shivering nearly as bad as the gunman as she waits for some zitty twenty-nine-year-old fella with a tie and sweat patches under his arms to fill the bag with money.

"I wish this bloke'd hurry up," Marv speaks.

"I said that already," I tell him.

"So what? I can't make a comment of my own?"

"Get your foot off me," I tell Audrey.

"What?" she responds.

"I said get your foot off me-my leg's going numb."

She moves it. Reluctantly.


The gunman turns around and shouts his question for the last time. "Who's the bastard talking?"

The thing to note with Marv is that he's problematic at the best of times. Argumentative. Less than amiable. He's the type of friend you find yourself constantly arguing with-especially when it comes to his shitbox Falcon. He's also a completely immature arsehole when he's in the mood.

He calls out in a jocular manner, "It's Ed Kennedy, sir. It's Ed who's talking!"

"Thanks a lot!" I say.

(My full name's Ed Kennedy. I'm nineteen. I'm an underage cabdriver. I'm typical of many of the young men you see in this suburban outpost of the city-not a whole lot of prospects or possibility. That aside, I read more books than I should, and I'm decidedly crap at sex and doing my taxes. Nice to meet you.)

"Well, shut up, Ed!" the gunman screams. Marv smirks. "Or I'll come over there and shoot the arse off you!"

It's like being in school again and your sadistic math teacher's barking orders at you from the front of the room, even though he couldn't care less and he's waiting for the bell so he can go home and drink beer and get fat in front of the telly.
I look at Marv. I want to kill him. "You're twenty years old, for Christ's sake. Are you trying to get us killed?"

"Shut up, Ed!" The gunman's voice is louder this time.

I whisper even quieter. "If I get shot, I'm blaming you. You know that, don't you?"

"I said shut up, Ed!"

"Everything's just a big joke, isn't it, Marv?"

"Right, that's it." The gunman forgets about the woman behind the counter and marches over to us, fed up as all buggery. When he arrives we all look up at him.



And all the other hopeless articles like us sprawled out on the floor.

The end of the gun touches the bridge of my nose. It makes it itchy. I don't scratch it.

The gunman looks back and forth between Marv and me. Through the stocking on his face I can see his ginger whiskers and acne scars. His eyes are small and he has big ears. He's most likely robbing the bank as a payback on the world for winning the ugliness prize at his local fete three years running.

"So which one of you's Ed?"

"Him," I answer, pointing to Marv.

"Oh no you don't," Marv counters, and I can tell by the look on his face that he isn't as afraid as he should be. He knows we'd both be dead by now if this gunman was the real thing. He looks up at the stocking-faced man and says, "Hang on a sec. . . ." He scratches his jawline. "You look familiar."

"Okay," I admit, "I'm Ed." But the gunman's too busy listening to what Marv has to say for himself.

"Marv," I whisper loudly, "shut up."

Excerpted from I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Markus Zusak is the author of Fighting Ruben Wolfe and Getting the Girl. He lives in Sydney, Australia, where he writes, occasionally works in a real job, and plays for a losing soccer team.

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I Am the Messenger 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 407 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Ed Kennedy is a nineteen-year-old cab driver who is kind of a nobody! He hasn't achieved anything great, isn't a genius, his mom despises him, and his dad died of alcoholism. The only real thing that he has is his dog, named the Doorman, who everyone says desperately needs a bath. And, he's in love with Audrey, a girl from a bad neighborhood, just like him, who also happens to be one of his best friends since forever. The thing is, Audrey doesn't know that Ed is in love with her, and worse yet, she says she doesn't believe in love.

One day, Ed and his friend stop at a local bank, but a robbery begins while they are in line. And Ed stops the guy.

So then he becomes a local hero. He is just trying to live a normal life, and then he gets a playing card in the mail with three addresses and times on it. Ed doesn't know what to do. Should he just throw the card away, like his friends instruct, or should he go to the first address to see what this is all about?

This book would be a good recommendation for fans of THE DA VINCI CODE and the movie National Treasure.

Ed is such a cool character! He seems like such a normal guy, who does things that normal guys do, and lives a very ordinary life. Until he gets the card in the mail, and he's not so ordinary anymore.
MeleeMelon More than 1 year ago
Markus Zusak is the best author ever-NO JOKE! The only book I can say is better than this one is The Book Thief (also by him). The story is perfect for finding yourself and realizing that you're not the only person in the world, and even though you think your life is bad there are other people in the world who are worse off than you. I love this book and not one person I know that's read it has disliked it.
Shahana More than 1 year ago
After having read and enjoyed Marcus Zusak's "The Book Thief" I decided to see what else he had out there. Lucky for me, I found this! I can say honestly, it is one of my favorite books and one of only two that I literally could not put down. I found myself up at two in the morning with half of the book still to go and all I could think was "I can finish it....I have to finish it!"

The story line is simple enough. A young man accidentally foils a bank robbery and because of that is singled out (by someone) to become a hero. They start sending him playing cards in the mail, each with three clues on it. He has to figure out the clues and do whatever needs doing. The results vary with everything from his befriending an old woman who has no one else left in her life, to stopping a man who has been beating his wife and child most of their lives. In the end, he learns a lot about himself.

It is an incredible, emotionally gripping roller coaster that will leave you thinking back on every decision you've made in your life and evaluating how it has affected you and those around you. It will challenge you by making you think about how you affect people around in your life. I highly recommend it for any teen or adult who loves the sort of book that you can't forget. This is a great book club title because it encourages discussion and, quite frankly, you can't help but want to share it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book I am the Messenger, by Markus Zuzak Ed Kennedy is just a normal, sensitive, hopeless, underage cab driver. He really does not know what to do with his life, until a mysterious ace of diamonds playing card with several street names written on it ends up in his mailbox. Ed embarks on a journey around his town stopping at certain houses and changing people's lives for the better. Some people he knows and others he does not; all along discovering more about himself. Ed's story moves through many colorful acquaintances, including, Daryl and Keith - the bumbling hit-men, the stern man in the taxi with yellow eyes, and the sneaky woman who decides to cause trouble for Ed at the Sledge Game. All of whom seem to work for the same person. Throughout his journey Ed cannot help but wonder who is the one dictating all the playing card madness. Throughout the book many themes are used to propel the story. Though the most important is finding your way in life, others include life goes on, change helps you learn more about yourself as well as others. The book is a wonderful, charming story. It has memorable characters and is quite a page turner. Though it is about 400 pages in reality 357 it keeps a great pace with the events in the story and the sarcasm and language really make it a fun read. The book is really a story meant for young adults but even adults will find it a short entertainment. One problem with the book though, is that some of the characters are really not needed. Though the story comes full circle at the end, taking out some of the characters wouldn't have change the story one bit. Anyone should read this charming story because not is it only packed with action for the action-lovers; but it has romance for the romance-lovers, and a great plot with good characters for the one's who just love a good story. Markus meant does not only appeal to every type of person in this story; but also was able to take a lighter side to the Holocaust in his other book The Book Thief about a girl named Lisel who steals books around her town to feed her thirst for knowledge. I am the Messenger is an incredible book filled with the needs of every type of book lover. It has a great story line. Charming characters, story line, and some of life's morals. It is truly a charming read and is a story that hopefully will remain in teenagers and adults bookcases for years to come.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With Ed Kennedy living a bland life as an underage cab driver with just his dog, The Doorman, he felt as if nothing was coming his way. His mom hated him, his dad had died, he had feelings his friend Audrey (but she wouldn't feel love towards anyone), and he was threatened by a criminal after being the "star of the scene" when he was a victim in a bank robbery. However, when Ed gets his first card in the mail, things start to change. Ed starts thinking outside of what's there to go way ahead of himself and change the lives of others. Helping and hurting, he is given spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds with different mysteries to unveil on every card. Each story is a new experience for him, and that is what I loved about this story. It wasn't just one main plot. Every situation was eventually linked into one, and that one story was his. The beginning was clever, the storyline was thorough, and the ending was amazing. All in all, this book was extremely hard to put down and I loved every bit of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is indescribable. There is a magic to the writing and the events that makes it such a pleasure to experience. The only sub-par element is the amount of willpower it takes to put it down when you don't have time to read it all in one sitting. There isn't a whole lot else to say, except that anyone unsure about reading the book should most definitely give it a shot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great but if youre sensitive to profanity or under 12 i suggest you wait to read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, and it has the same charm that markus puts into every book of his. But, if you are under 14 years old i would advise you to wait a couple years before you read it. It is full of 'adult themes' but is truly a wonderful book, so dont be deterred by this. Just eait untill you are a bit older, and then read up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it. It tops charts for me and definitely was good. I reread it several times:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book reminds me of the true meaning of YOLO
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. My mind was tested with the mysterious appearance of every set of cards. With every card, comes a new quest to help others, and for the main character to find his true identity. I was disappointed with the ending, because it left me confused, dazed, and wanting more. I recommend for 12 and up
paperbackjunkie59 More than 1 year ago
Besides the few problems I had with this book - oh wait, there were none... This book is exceptional. It is breathtaking and magical and special. Definitely special. The best part of this book was the ending. It is so perfect, and ties the whole story together perfectly, I suppose as an ending should. But this one was spectacular. It was great. It took me a while to grow comfortable with the characters in the novel but once the story got started, I felt like I was a part of that slummy town in Australia.  So, read this book. It relays a beautiful message AND it is quite entertaining. I finished it in a couple days. I also recommend it to fans of John Green.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, good read, cheesy ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Markus Zusak and this was another great read, mysterious and you can't stop reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
BeckyBradshaw More than 1 year ago
Great book!  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really makes you rethink the way you live your life, a great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gave me insight to myself...made me stop making excuses for so many things..even started using my treadmill every day again! Loved this book amd rhe other book by this author..the book thief..two of my all time new favorites!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thia book is amazing and even if you think that this book is never ending keep reaading till the end! I loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak is by far one of my favorite books. It really delves into the human psyche and challenges our views of what makes a hero, what secrets we hide, and what humans are capable of when they try. It is certainly not a children’s book – the cursing and slightly larger-than-life themes prove that – but teenagers, young adults, and above will enjoy it. Ed Kennedy is a 19-year-old taxi driver whose life is completely and utterly dead-end. He lives in a shack with his dog the Doorman, plays a card game called Annoyance with his friends Ritchie, Marv, and Audrey, loves a girl he can’t have, and is constantly yelled at by his less than approving mother. One day, he stops a bank robbery, and after that he starts receiving cards in the mail – Aces, each with a written hint on it directing him to someone that needs his help. I have never seen a style of writing quite like Zusak’s. I marveled at it in The Book Thief and I marveled at it in I Am The Messenger, and I will continue to marvel at it so long as it contains that fabulous, simplistic tone only he can seem to pull off. And he uses this power for good by writing what is one of the most beautifully philosophical pieces I have ever read in my life. The book digs into your heart and forces you to reevaluate yourself, your life, and the point to which you’re willing to go for other people. The characters are realistic and flawed, and their relationships show a wonderful clarity that are at times incredibly goofy and at times some of the most touching things I’ve ever read. If there is one thing that I could have suggested improvement on, I think he should’ve left the ending where it was with the ‘dead man’ ending; the rest might have been devoted to reflection. He could have reached the same conclusions without the last protagonist being introduced, I think. Even that flowed well – it was simply a matter of preference. I Am The Messenger is the type of book you can read 15 times in a row without getting bored (I certainly did). Zusak has truly outdone himself with this, and I will always be on the lookout for a new book by him. I would recommend this for anyone who has a tolerance for curse words and some adult themes. This is a book that sticks with you forever, and I – certainly – will never forget it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is definitly a must read book
Kyvan Dang More than 1 year ago
Like every other book of his, Zusak creates such real and honest stories with real and honest characters. It leaves the reader with an incredible feeling.
Anonymous 18 days ago
One of the best books I have ever read, but there is a lot of swearing and inapropiate relationships. This book is a good book and Ed(the main character) goes on a series of thirteen quests to build character and make the world a better place for himself and others.
Anonymous 3 months ago
This is a great simple book where the ending makes the entire book more than worth it.
Anonymous 4 months ago
The confusing accent was the only downside of the story. I really enjoyed it.