Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Am The Messenger, by Markus Zusak

I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak, is a great book that will appeal to teenagers and adults alike. As I've begun to get more and more involved in young adult literature, I'm learning that quality young adult books are often times better than quality adult reads. That is the case with I Am the Messenger, it's a strong story with themes that apply to high school students and adults, and the story is also sophisticated enough to find readers in both age groups (although the adult age group is a little bigger and more complex than I'm letting on).

Because of this books dual identity in terms of its appeal, I want to talk about its appropriateness to both young adults and adults. First of all, I wouldn't use this book with any student younger than maybe 10th grade, there is a sexual theme that recurs, and I could almost liken some of the internal dialogue in this book to the internal dialogue in The Catcher in the Rye. Of course, J.D. Salinger's signature novel is one of the most banned books that is still widely read.

I Am the Messenger is a much deeper story in my opinion than Holden Caufield's exploits from The Catcher in the Rye. When I first read Catcher, I was surprised at how shallow Caufield (the protagonist) was for the entire story. I didn't get that impression with Ed Kennedy, the protagonist from Messenger. Students will enjoy this book because of its parallels to the realities of life and failure, they'll also enjoy the mystery aspect to the story, and the many different story lines that take place within the mind of a single character.

Now, for adults, the book I kept relating this too was Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas. The internal monologue is very similar, and the self-deprecating manner that the protagonist treats himself is extremely similar in both books. Plus, we encounter an unlikely hero in both books, so the stories strongly relate. I wouldn't say that Zusak and Koontz write in the same way, but they way they carry on their character portraits were similar in the case of these two specific characters of Odd Thomas and Ed Kennedy, without Ed Kennedy seeing dead people and all of that.

This book is highly recommended from me. Markus Zusak can practically do no wrong. His other best seller, The Book Thief (read my review of that book HERE), is one of my favorite books of all time. Check out both of these books, and have fun, because they're highly enjoyable.