I am the Messanger

This Markus Zusak (I’m thinking pen name) 2002 book won the American Library Association’s Michael L. Prinz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.� There’s a big silver P on the cover.� I read it on the recommendation of a friend and her daughter, thinking it might be worth including in my Adolescent Lit course this summer.

It’s not a bad book, but I don’t know if it deserved�the P, unless that’s a letter grade.� The plot was innovative:� lonsome loser receives mysterious playing card with mysterious message which, after some head scratching, leads loser become the “messenger” to various people in need.� The book divides into four parts – one for each suit – with each part containing 13 chapters.� This is clever, but strikes me as the novelist equivalent of a sonnet.� He’s gotta write that 13th chapter whether there’s anything to write about or not.

Anyway, the first chapter is great.� We’re introduced to a group of engaging and cynical young characters lying on the floor in the middle of a whacked bank robbery.� From there, though, it slogs through 52 obligatory chapters (actually more – did I mention the Joker?) that get preachier and preachier.� In the process, we get a steady trickle of pop cultural references from the Proclaimers to the Drew Carey Show that ring pretty hollow – like a slow dose of Zusak’s MySpace Favorites.

To be fair, it’s not a bad book.� There were a couple of nights where I stayed up reading later than I ought.� There�are some great characters like�Keith and Daryl, classic thugs that show up to clarify the various kryptic messages on the cards.� They have clarifying fists, and eat meat pies.� Another favorite is our protagonist’s coffee drinking, stinking dog, the Doorman.� Another charming trait is it’s Austrailian setting, which is never actually mentioned, but shows up in details like the above mentioned meat pies, the heat of Christmas, and off hand references to things like roundabouts (no vegamite sandwiches or�trysts with sheilas, though).

It’s clearly got a message, and that may be the reason for P.

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