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Literature / I Am the Messenger

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"Protect the diamonds. Survive the clubs. Dig deep through the spades. Feel the hearts."

I Am the Messenger (originally published in Australia as The Messenger) is an award-winning children's book by Markus Zusak.

Meet Ed Kennedy. Underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer and a man who is useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he's hopelessly in nervous-love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That's when the Ace of Diamonds arrives, with three addresses written on its back. That's when Ed becomes the messenger, helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: who's behind his mission?


This work provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: Marv's Ford, to the point where a robbery is thwarted because the robber chooses it for his getaway vehicle.
  • An Aesop: "If a guy like you can stand up and do what you did for all those people, well, maybe everyone can. Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of."
  • Anti-Hero: Ed, who as we mentioned is a bit of a failure until it all begins.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Ed says he comes from the north part of town, where there are "mothers like his who smoke, drink, and go out in public wearing Ugg boots."
  • Author Avatar: Supposedly the man who visits Ed at the end.
  • Big Friendly Dog: The Doorman
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: part of the conclusion.
  • Broken Bird: The wife of "Mr Edgar Street" and her daughter. "Are you OK?"
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Chessmaster at the end of the story has a file where he keeps all the story's writing. Now look at the 'about the author' photo in the back...
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  • Chekhov's Gunman: Literally!
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Of all people, it turns out to be Ritchie.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Sophie. She begrudgingly wears them to her track meets, thinking they at least make her run a little better. She stops when Ed sees her run in the morning (shoeless) and suggests she ditch the sneakers during meets.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After Ed finishes the last ace, it looks like we're heading towards a feel good Bittersweet Ending... and then comes the Joker.
  • Exact Words: The robber at the beginning of the book tells Ed that he's "a dead man", and that's all Ed will ever see when he looks into the mirror. Turns out it wasn't a threat, but a warning, that Ed may as well be dead with the low standards of life he was living; later, when the robber returns after Ed's efforts to follow the cards results in the great improvement of his standards of living, he asks Ed if he still sees a dead man in the mirror.
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  • Gainax Ending: A totally non-fantasy story suddenly turns Post Modern when The Chessmaster turns out to be the author himself. He's a pretty nice guy, and even gives Ed the book's manuscript. After a bit of navel-contemplating, Ed decides to go on living his life.
  • Good Bad Girl: Audrey.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Averted. Ed himself says, "useless at sex," and wishes it was more like maths so no one would care.
  • Now What?: Ed's reaction after the author drops in. "I don't leave the shack, and I don't answer the phone. I barely even eat." Justified and played with in that if the book ended say, before the Joker was delivered, Ed would be done and not be 'alive' as we would not be reading about him.
  • Loser Protagonist: Ed's an uninspired taxi driver, hopelessly in love with a coworker who doesn't reciprocate, and terrible at cards. His life is going nowhere fast and he is complacent with this, if only because he doesn't see the point of trying anyways. The book basically deconstructs, then rebuilds his outlook, forcing him to live a life worth living.
  • Postmodernism: The second last chapter.
  • Rape as Drama: One of the first people he has to help is a woman whose husband rapes her regularly.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: His own mother gives one to Ed. Ouch.
  • Serious Business: The annual football Sledge Game to Marv.
  • Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism. Quite cynical... except for the Aesop.
  • Twist Ending: The book is humming along, the messages have all been delivered and then the author pops in, hands Ed the manuscript for The Messenger and wanders off down the street.
    Ed: I'm not the messenger at all. I'm the message.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Audrey and Ed both like each other, and both know it, but can't be together because Audrey's afraid of being in a relationship with someone she actually cares about.