I Am the Messenger- Markus Zusak

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 “It’s not a big thing, but I guess it’s true–big things are often just small things that are noticed.”
― Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger

Imagine living the same life every day. You’re 19 years old, you’re a cab driver, your best friend is a nasty dog and you play cards with your boring friends every now and then. You don’t stand out. You don’t do anything out of the ordinary. When it seems as though your life will play out like this until the day you drop dead, things begin to change. Slowly, at first, but then, you’re faced with decisions of extreme measure, obligations that you’ve never had. It’s your mission. You, the 19-year-old cab driver who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with anyone, to change things. To change lives.

‘I Am the Messenger’ by Markus Zusak tells the story of 19-year-old Ed Kennedy, who lives in a slummy neighbourhood in Australia with his constantly-caffeinated dog. Ed lives routinely, without surprise or excitement, save for the times that his mother calls him to spout a stream of obscenities his way. He’s completely in love with his friend Audrey, which does him no good, and his mates Marv and Ritchie are no improvement to his life either. Let’s face it, Ed’s life is a little bit sad. But only when he gets himself caught in the middle of a heist does he realize that he’s destined for greater feats, for greater things. He receives his first playing card in the mail, upon which three names are written, and his whole world flips upside-down. His job is to deliver messages to those who need them most, but what he doesn’t realize, is that in addition to helping the helpless, he’s also helping himself. Ed gets swallowed into a whirlpool of danger, friendship, animosity, and love, so often weighted with the desire to give up. Will this task become too much for worthless cabbie Ed Kennedy? After all, things haven’t looked bright for him so far.

THIS. BOOK. I laughed, I cried a little more than I care to admit, and I thought so deeply about it. And I think that that really is the point of the book. To get you to think about where we are, and that although we may perceive ourselves as tiny specks in a world so vast, one action can play out and cause so many more in its wake. This was the second book by Markus Zusak that I’ve read, the first (of course) being ‘The Book Thief’. It was really amazing to read this completely different style, and I cannot in any way compare it to the writing of ‘The Book Thief’. It was a wonderful new experience. If you’re looking for originality, look no further.

I’m not a cab driver, I don’t have a coffee-addicted dog and I don’t get sent on dangerous missions to help others. What I’m trying to say is that I couldn’t really connect with any character in this story, but I didn’t mind that in the least. Watching these peoples’ lives play out in front of me was an experience to behold, and I was thoroughly impressed that every single character got their own arcs and were all very well developed. For example, you’ll think Marv, Ed’s friend, to be a complete idiot throughout the beginning, but his hidden storyline hits so hard near the end. I loved that so much.

I tore through this novel like there was no tomorrow. Every chapter flowed so nicely together, and there was never a dull moment. Sometimes predictable, sure, but often times I was shocked by what Markus Zusak had in store. Even though I didn’t connect with the characters, they connected with me. They made me believe their emotions, and made me think that I could do what they were doing. If you only take one thing away from the story… well you’ll know what that one thing is if you read it, I suppose.

Please, please read this book! It was the best thing I could have read at the end of the year. Ed Kennedy’s story is one of heartbreak and conflict, but also of self-discovery and new beginnings. This book had so much potential and it was definitely realized. I’m starting to think that I need to read a terrible book… all of my reviews have been overwhelmingly positive so far, but I suppose that’s a good sign. I want to thank everyone who has read any of my posts, and I sincerely hope that I persuaded you to read something new. I also want to thank the almighty Markus Zusak for writing this gorgeously executed story. If you see ‘I Am the Messenger’ on a shelf somewhere, do not skip over it. Pick it up. Flip through the pages. Be ready to take in an enlightening story. Read on.

(Depending on where you live, this book might just be called ‘The Messenger’. ‘I Am the Messenger’ is the American title.)

Fangirl- Rainbow Rowell

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“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”
― Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

The first time I heard about Fangirl, I knew that I had to read it. Something about it seemed so hilariously relatable to me, whether it was the fact that the ‘Simon Snow’ franchise that is a huge part of the book, is so obviously inspired by J.K Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ series, or whether the protagonist, Cath, is a world renowned writer… of online Simon Snow fan-fiction. Either way, the story begged to be read, and I have a lot to say about it. So for anyone on the fence deciding whether or not to read this book, here are my thoughts and opinions.

‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell is a YA realistic fiction novel that follows Cather Avery, better known as Cath, who is heading off to college. The thing is, even though she’s nearing her adult life, she can’t let go of her childhood. Her world revolves around Simon Snow, a series of childrens’ books that Cath and her twin sister Wren have adored for their whole lives. To bridge the gap between the seventh and eighth book, Cath and Wren started writing online fan-fiction about Simon Snow, which soon blew up and gained millions of fans and readers. Upon entering college, Wren stops participating in the writing process and goes off on her own to explore the new world of freedom. Cath finds herself in a position where she is stuck in a rut of avoiding making new friends, staying up writing her stories, and worrying about her father, who is prone to mental breakdowns and is now on his own. Cath has to choose between shutting herself away from the world, and branching out to help herself, her sister and her dad.

This book is great fun to read. Personally, I could really relate to Cath’s socially awkward behaviours and endeavours, which made it just that much more entertaining. Rainbow Rowell captures a bit of romance, comedy and suspense in her fresh, relevant plot. Of course, whether or not you’ll enjoy this book is also partially determined by your initial pop culture knowledge. It’s definitely for people of the current generation, as it essentially tells the tale of a late-night tumblr-fanfic writer. And if you didn’t understand that sentence, the subject matter of the book could confuse you, but hey! Don’t let that stop you!

You didn’t think that this would all be positive, did you? Yes, there were a few things that bothered me about the novel. First and foremost, the ending was very rushed in my opinion. A subplot or two went without resolutions in the process of the conclusion, and the main premise itself seemed to wrap up in a hurry. I’ll leave that to you to decide, though, it could just be that I’m a picky reader. Other than that, the book was not hard to begin, but once the initial intrigue wore off, the book slowed down for awhile and was hard to get back into. Hopefully I didn’t turn you off with these perspectives. In the grand scheme of the story, those points are not overwhelmingly negative.

To sum everything up, I do recommend this to anyone with substantial knowledge of the internet and popular culture who is looking for a light, fun read. Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Fangirl’ is bright and a change from typical YA. It’s not a novel that requires a lot of thinking, but it’s relatable and realistic, whether you’re a college student, an avid fan-fiction reader, or a workaholic. Happy reading!