Tag Archives: Young Adult Books
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak.
Sometimes, the book you are after is unavailable so you grab whatever would be next to it on the shelf, just because. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a critically-acclaimed, award-winning novel that was also made into a movie. I don’t know what it’s about because it was not available. What was available, however, was a novel he wrote a few years earlier called I am the Messenger. It was a Printz Honor book which means it should probably not be terrible. I borrowed it.
I am the Messenger is an unusual story of a young Australian named Ed Kennedy, an 19-year-old who drives a cab and in his free time hangs out with his friends playing cards and drinking beer, or drinking coffee with his dog named The Doorman. But all that changes after Ed accidentally foils a bank robbery. For a little while he is hailed as a hero. After things quiet down, he anonymously receives a playing card in the mail, the Ace of Diamonds. On the back are a list of addresses and times. Ed realizes that he is being placed in the middle of peoples’ lives as a messenger. Each time he fulfills the tasks, which he must figure out on his own, he receives another card in the mail.
There is a woman who is abused by her husband. There is an old woman who is lonely. There is a young girl who is strong but lacks confidence.
In the process of fulfilling these tasks, Ed finds new meaning for his own life. Instead of muddling through the days, he discovers that he can affect other peoples’ lives in positive ways. Something as little as buying an ice cream for somebody can have a powerful effect.
What makes the book work is the narrator, Ed. He’s cheeky and funny but also has a secret poetic side and can be disarmingly insightful at times. A truly interesting read for teens and adults about how sometimes you need a kick in the pants to move you in the right direction.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix
Over the years, I have judiciously reported on pretty much every book Garth Nix has written. He is a fairly diverse writer, covering the realms of both fantasy and sci-fi, plus some stuff that falls in between. His most recent novel forges into new territory for Nix: the Regency romance. For those unfamiliar with this genre, think young ladies in silken gowns looking forward to being presented so they can finally partake of the waltz, which is too risqué for a young lady. Think lords and manors and balls. Now give all this a Garth Nix twist; pepper the ladies and gowns and carriages with magical intrigue and you’ve got Newt’s Emerald.
Lady Truthful Newington is about to turn eighteen and celebrate her grand coming out in London. In preparation for the event, her father brings out the valuable magical Newington Emerald which will be given to Truthful when she turns 24. Suddenly, thunder cracks, everything turns black, and the emerald is gone! Lady Truthful has to go to London empty-handed. However, her great aunt, who is a skilled if eccentric magician in her own right, concocts a plan to find the emerald. As a young lady, Truthful cannot go out on her own to seek it out. But some training, some trousers and an ensorcelled mustache can give her the glamour of a rather convincing young Frenchman, and suddenly Truthful is the Chevalier de Vienne who is helping look for his cousin’s stolen emerald.
Full of quick changes, cheeky humor from the great aunt, and a love interest who may or may not be what he seems, Newt’s Emerald is a fun and utterly harmless story. It’s so unlike anything else Nix has written that it takes a minute to adjust but he tells a fantastic tale whatever the setting. And to be honest, I’m a sucker for magical Victorian young adult lit.