Ed Kennedy spends his life alternating between working as a cabbie and playing cards with his three mates, Marv, who’s blindly loyal to his dilapidated light blue Falcon, Ritchie, who still lives at home with his parents, and the lovely Audrey, who dates losers and is unaware that Ed’s in love with her. When the four friends are caught up in a bank robbery, featuring possibly the world’s most inept criminal, it’s the closest thing to excitement that Ed’s known for a while. The would-be robber’s quickly caught, and Ed testifies against him, despite vows that he’s a dead man for doing so.
From this unpromising beginning arises a mission, one that Ed is conscripted into and afraid not to pursue. Following directions on a series of playing cards, Ed begins to observe a group of strangers, interfering with their lives for the general good. His interference comes at a cost – Ed is threatened, beaten up and terrified, by he feels a sense of purpose long missing from his life. And behind it all is the question – who is orchestrating it all?I really enjoyed the premise, the writing style, the character and voice of Ed, and the comedy laced through The Messenger. As Ed becomes involved in the lives of strangers he becomes more conscious of his own life, and is forced to confront truths about himself, his family and his friends that would otherwise stayed hidden.
However, I was hugely disappointed with the identity of the mastermind behind the whole thing. As a reader I was more interested in the journey than the impetus, and would probably have been relatively uncritical of a plausible, even if far-fetched, answer. Instead Zusak combines fourth-wall breaking, Literary style and a dollop of deus ex machine to create the written equivalent of Dallas's season eight it-was-all-a-dream ending – Ed is a character, the tasks were created by the author, and in the final words of the novel, “I’m not the messenger at all. I’m the message.”
Ick, yuck, moving on. – Alex