Follow TV Tropes


Literature / I Am the Messenger

Go To

"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."
  • 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."
  • Caught Up in a Robbery: The book begins with Ed and his friends getting caught up in a robbery at a gas station. When he accidentally stops the robbery, Ed's life changes but he has the robber's threat that he's "a dead man" hanging over his head. When the robber reappears at the end, he reveals that it wasn't a threat, but a warning that Ed was wasting his life.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Prefers Going Barefoot: Sophie. She begrudgingly wears shoes 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.
  • Rape as Drama: One of the first people he has to help is a woman whose husband rapes her regularly.
  • 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.