Short of Acing It, but Certainly Enjoyable: I Am the Messenger

Markus Zusak is most well-known for his book, The Book Thief, and while his other novel, I Am the Messenger was published back in 2006, it has lately been getting a lot of attention and hype. The story is about an aimless, unmotivated, underage cab driver who helps to prevent a bank robbery. After that fateful moment, he is essentially forced into performing good deeds for people. These tasks come in the form of playing cards with cryptic messages on them. It’s up to him to decode the message, identify the individual, and determine what needs to be done. At the end of the day, it’s a lovely book with a lot of heart and a fantastic message.

Short of Acing It, but Certainly Enjoyable: I Am the MessengerI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Borzoi Books on May 9th 2006
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Narrator: Marc Aden Gray
Length: 8 hours, 39 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy from The Book Depository

protect the diamonds, survive the clubs, dig deep through the spades, feel the hearts

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?


  • The plot was enjoyable and unique. I love the idea that Ed is getting these mysterious cards (Aces, to be exact), having to decode who the message is for, and then having to figure out how exactly to deliver the message. There’s a lot of puzzling about in this book, and it makes for a relatively fast-paced read (well, I audiobooked it, so I should say fast-paced “listen”).
  • Zusak’s writing is so excellent! Man oh man there were so many times that I wished I was reading the physical book so that I could highlight quotes. But alas, I listened to the audiobook. He has a way of describing things with such accuracy and vividness, and though the description may be odd, it conveys the sentiment perfectly.
“My voice is like a rumour. I’m not sure if it came out or not, or if it is true.”
“We both laugh and run and the moment is so thick around me that I feel like dropping into it to let it carry me.”
  • The audiobook narrator, Marc Aden Gray, was great. It may be that I liked him just because he had an Australian accent (this book takes place in Australia), but either way, I felt like he did a great job with the acting. The audiobook is definitely worth listening to if you enjoy them.

i am the messenger 1


  • Some of the messages are extracted too easily. Like, Ed determines who the message is for, goes to their house for an hour, and then *ping!* he knows what he has to do! It’s just a little far-fetched to me that he can so quickly figure out the message for someone he’s never seen or met before.
  • If I step back from my suspension of disbelief for a second, the concept of the book really is a bit unrealistic. While I did enjoy the plot, it’s just not something that could ever be executed in real life. If this were a fantasy book, I’d have no problem, but this is supposed to be contemporary fiction so it’s lack of being realistic was a mark against it for me.

final star count
single starsingle starsingle star
At the end of the day, this is a lovely, feel-good book with a great message (especially for younger readers!). I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it. 

“It’s about… small things that are big.” 

chime in
Have you read this one or any other book by Zusak? Do you like feel-good books? What are some of your favorite feel-good books to read?

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  1. I’ve also wondered about I Am The Messenger, considering how succesfull The Book Thief was. I’ve actually never tried to find out the blurb for this, but your review cleared everything up. It sounds like it has a pretty interesting concept going on. I’m glad you were still able to enjoy the audiobook! 😀 Great review.

    – Lashaan

    1. I didn’t read the synopsis very closely prior to reading the novel, so the plot surprised me! It’s so different than The Book Thief!