The Messenger is Markus Zusak’s 4th novel. The story revolves around Ed Kennedy, an under-age taxi driver in a small town somewhere in rural Australia. Ed’s life seems pretty ordinary: he lives in a suburban shack, shares coffee with his smelly dog, The Doorman, and plays cards with friends Marv, Ritchie and Audrey (with whom he’s in love). Things start to change when he inadvertently stops a bank robbery: the first ace, the ace of diamonds turns up in his letterbox, and it appears he has been chosen to affect the lives of certain others. But who is sending the aces? Who has chosen him to be the messenger?
Zusak captures the feel of small town Australia very well, probably from his own experience. The story is a bit slow-moving in parts (just like small-town life). Zusak gives us characters to like, love and hate, dialogue that is authentic, some humour and an intriguing plot. Without giving anything away, some readers may be disappointed in the ending, but the last few pages bear rereading and contemplation. At first I felt a bit cheated, like I did after reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement, but I found it easier to read than that novel and, on reflection, I liked the ending. It is certainly not a children’s book, even though it was the winner of the 2003 Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award!