I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak was OK. The actual story, when Ed is receiving the cards and trying to figure out what his missions are, was engaging, however, it certainly was not as good as The Book Thief. My hardcover copy was originally published in 2002 and is 357 pages long.
I will conceded that there were parts of I Am the Messenger that were simply wonderful. Frankly, though, while the premise for the story was interesting, two parts of I Am the Messenger disappointed me: the language and the ending. Although I can handle quite a bit of adult language, I felt like there was simply too much swearing that involved taking the Lord's name in vain. I'd rather see the s- or f- word. Then, even though I can appreciate the ending, I didn't think it suited the book, so it was a huge let down. Add to these two major complaints all the sexual content and I also feel the book needs to be for an older audience. So, this book is only going to receive a limited recommendation by me with the notation to be forewarned about the language. If you want to read a great book by Zusak, get The Book Thief.
Grade 9 Up - Nineteen-year-old cabbie Ed Kennedy has little in life to be proud of: his dad died of alcoholism, and he and his mom have few prospects for success. He has little to do except share a run-down apartment with his faithful yet smelly dog, drive his taxi, and play cards and drink with his amiable yet similarly washed-up friends. Then, after he stops a bank robbery, Ed begins receiving anonymous messages marked in code on playing cards in the mail, and almost immediately his life begins to swerve off its beaten-down path. Usually the messages instruct him to be at a certain address at a certain time. So with nothing to lose, Ed embarks on a series of missions as random as a toss of dice: sometimes daredevil, sometimes heartwarmingly safe. He rescues a woman from nightly rape by her husband. He brings a congregation to an abandoned parish. The ease with which he achieves results vacillates between facile and dangerous, and Ed's search for meaning drives him to complete every task. But the true driving force behind the novel itself is readers' knowledge that behind every turn looms the unknown presence - either good or evil - of the person or persons sending the messages. 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 where unknowingly lost Ed Kennedy stumbles onto a mystery - or series of mysteries - that could very well make or break his life. - Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library; From School Library Journal