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I Am the Messenger

by

I Am the Messenger Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Part 1: THE FIRST MESSAGE |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."

"What?"

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."

"Exactly."

"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.

"Thanks."

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. Marv.

Audrey.

Me.

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 Copyright © 2005 by Markus Zusak.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

Sheila Deeth, October 24, 2014 (view all comments by Sheila Deeth)
If you’re looking for a novel like The Book Thief, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a seriously intriguing read, with a seriously irreverent layabout teen lead character, and a mystery that draws you deeper into inexplicable strangeness, even as the message remains disguised, then look no further. This card-player’s cryptic cards will lead Ed on a chase through character and plot, making even the most disturbing scene seem uplifting or even redeeming. Meanwhile the truth behind Ed's mission stays deviously disguised.

These teens drink and swear---it’s part of what makes them real, and it’s not gratuitous. They live half-wasted lives in that wasteland before adulthood. They cope with disappointing parents and parental disappointment, and struggle to heal from lack of direction or hope. Meanwhile the protagonist learns that both young and old have problems of their own. He learns to care. And he learns to see what's needed while others are blind.

The question, of course, is what hope is there for him, if he’s just the messenger. And the answer? You’ll have to read it to find out. Aimed at older, mature teens, and wonderfully enthralling and revealing for adults too, I Am The Messenger offers a wonderful message in a story that won’t let go.

Disclosure: I loved the Book Thief and I knew this would be different, but I love this too.
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mizmeliss87, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by mizmeliss87)
I love Markus Zusak's writing style. He writes as his characters would think and talk. The book is written from the perspective of a 19 year old Australian boy who is trying to figure out his place in the world. He is a flawed character who makes mistakes, takes forever to act, and can retreat far into himself. His flaws make him human and his struggles make the reader think. This book challenges readers to think beyond a good story and to ask the tough ethical questions of the grey areas in life. As Ed Kennedy struggles to answer the questions of "who am I?" and "What the hell am I doing with my life?" the reader in turn asks the same questions. Ed is challenged in the story but at the same time, he challenges readers as well.
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(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
hbrophy, January 15, 2011 (view all comments by hbrophy)
I couldn't put this down...I love Markus Zusak's voice...after all, in some small way we are all messengers...
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 9 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375836671
Author:
Zusak, Markus
Publisher:
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Author:
Andrews, Jesse
Subject:
General
Subject:
Self-Esteem
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
Subject:
Mysteries, Espionage, & Detective Stories
Subject:
Heroes
Subject:
Social Issues - Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Subject:
General Juvenile Fiction
Subject:
Children s Middle Readers-General
Subject:
Mysteries & Detective Stories
Subject:
Historical - Holocaust
Subject:
fiction;ya;young adult;mystery;australia;friendship;coming of age;playing cards;cards;printz honor;heroes;realistic fiction;young adult fiction;contemporary;teen;love;novel;messages;self-esteem;bank robbery;printz;romance;suspense;altruism;printz award;ta
Subject:
box set;boxed set;wwii;world war ii;world war 2;australia
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover w/Dust Jacket
Publication Date:
20060531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 7
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 x 1 in
Age Level:
12-17

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I Am the Messenger Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
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Product details 304 pages Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - English 9780375836671 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I've got to hand it to Australian author Markus Zusak: this book single-handedly made me want to be a better person. As a lifelong reader, I feel a book like this, one that can really change people, comes around so rarely that Zusak must be recognized as the innovative and fascinating author he is.

"Review" by , "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..."
"Review" by , "...Zusak succeeds brilliantly."
"Review" by , "Funny, engrossing, and suspenseful."
"Review" by , "A touching and intriguing exploration of the need to live one's life significantly, to value the richness knowing one another brings along with its terrible vulnerability."
"Review" by , "[A] wild ride of a novel..."
"Synopsis" by ,
The book that inspired the hit film!

 

Sundance U.S. Dramatic Audience Award

Sundance Grand Jury Prize

 

This is the funniest book you’ll ever read about death.

 

It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.

        This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life.

Praise for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

STARRED REVIEW

“One need only look at the chapter titles (“Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way”) to know that this is one funny book.”

Booklist, starred review

STARRED REVIEW

“A frequently hysterical confessional...Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable and sympathetic, however fiercely he professes his essential crappiness as a human being. Though this novel begs inevitable thematic comparisons to John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (2011), it stands on its own in inventiveness, humor and heart.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“It is sure to be popular with many boys, including reluctant readers, and will not require much selling on the part of the librarian.”

VOYA

"Mr. Andrews' often hilarious teen dialogue is utterly convincing, and his characters are compelling. Greg's random sense of humor, terrible self-esteem and general lack of self-awareness all ring true. Like many YA authors, Mr. Andrews blends humor and pathos with true skill, but he steers clear of tricky resolutions and overt life lessons, favoring incremental understanding and growth."

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Awards:

Capitol Choices 2013 - Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens

Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices 2013 list - Young Adult Fiction

YALSA 2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

YALSA 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults

YALSA 2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

 

"Synopsis" by , Markus Zusak is the author of I Am the Messenger, a Printz Honor Book and Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist, and the international bestseller, The Book Thief, which has been translated into over thirty languages and has sold nine million copies around the world. He is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens and lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and children.
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