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Teen Book Review – I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

I Am the Messanger

TL; DR 8.5/10 only because it’s not my style of book (like The Book Thief was), but do give it a read just in case it is yours.

I’ll be honest and say that I only started I Am The Messenger because Markus Zusak is the one that wrote The Book Thief. I wasn’t expecting the books to be completely alike, but considering they have the same author, I did expect some similarity. In that regard, I was disappointed.

I Am The Messenger is very different from The Book Thief. The Book Thief’s beauty is apparent and classy, it’s like a stunning painting on the wall. I Am The Messenger has beauty, too, but it’s inconspicuous and not obvious at all. To continue my metaphor, if the Book Thief is a revered masterpiece, I Am The Messenger is a patch of graffiti, but like… talented graffiti.

Awkward metaphors aside, here’s the disclaimer: DO NOT PICK THIS BOOK UP EXPECTING “THE BOOK THIEF” 2.0

Now that we’ve got that settled… Ed Kennedy is the main character in this book. He is an underage cab driver, hobbyist card player, and completely in love with his best friend Audrey. He lives in a shack (his words, not mine) with the Doorman (foul-smelling but beloved dog). In other words, Ed Kennedy is a deadbeat at the ripe old age of 19.

But then Ed Kennedy stops a robbery. Which isn’t much of a feat, really, since the bank robber was almost as incompetent as Ed himself, but it does end up changing his life. Because that’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

On the cards, there are simple codes. Sometimes addresses, sometimes the names of movies or places… but the goal is obvious, at times even simple. Ed has to make an impact. Doing good (or bad when needed) Ed becomes the Messenger.

The question remains… who is behind Ed’s mission?.

My review, finally: This book is the kind of good that slaps you in the face five pages from the ending. There are pieces of gold comedy in there– it made me laugh out loud. There are also some very ugly scenes, scenes that are uncomfortable and seem to serve no purpose than making the reader insane. But like I said, it’s really good. (I can think of no other way to describe it, sorry!!) The romance is shockingly well-written, and doesn’t take up too much of the book, which is always a plus. I’d definitely recommend it, but with some pointers: you’ll be confused. You’ll want to stop reading, and send an email to the author involving a lot of question marks. You’ll wonder at the slang. But at the end, if you stick with it, you’ll appreciate it for the gem it is, and the message (pun intended) it carries.

Teen SRC 2020- Slay by Brittney Morris


Kiera Johnson leads a double life. Being one of the few Black girls at her school, she behaves the way she needs to: smart, helpful, and unproblematic. Even Kiera’s family and her boyfriend, Malcolm, expect her to act a certain way. The only time Kiera is truly herself is when she’s Emerald, the queen in a virtual reality game called Slay. Keira made Slay to celebrate Black excellence, and her multitude of players come from across the globe. Of course, no one in Kiera’s real life knows she made the game, or even that she plays it.

But when a Black boy is murdered for game money, for SLAY money, Kiera’s two very separate lives come crashing together. Kiera is filled with guilt for having created a game that took a boy’s life, but she doesn’t have time to grieve. Media outlets, and the internet has pounced on the game, on HER game, calling it racist and exclusionary. Everyone now has an opinion on SLAY, but Kiera doesn’t know what to do. Not saying anything, she might become complacent to the injustice, but speaking up could risk exposing her identity. Worst of all, Kiera now risks losing SLAY to Dred Scott, a racist troll. Emerald would fight for justice, Kiera knows. Emerald wouldn’t bow down to anyone. But will Kiera?

Slay is an absolute masterpiece. I have to admit to having an aversion to video-game related books, but Slay has dispelled that notion. The world-building in this book is amazing, the details exquisite, and I wished I could see a game like SLAY in real life. Kiera is a well-developed character, but some of the side characters are more likable, at least to me. We are also told how SLAY has impacted people’s lives by having a few chapters told in another perspective, a technique I will always love.

Slay by Brittney Morris gets 9/10. The ending was a bit too unrealistic for my taste, and there were some unnecessary scenes. (and i’m sorry, but the cover!! A portrait cover, *sigh*, and far too much pink, which doesn’t match with the story’s vibe.)

Overall, Slay opens up many important discussions about safe spaces for minorities, identity, and what Black excellence looks like at an individual level. That might sound preachy or way too serious, but I promise you, it’s not. The story itself is captivating and there is a mystery aspect to it as well (yayyy!!). Coming from a minority background myself, Slay feels like a hug after a tiring day, a hug that says “I see you and I feel you.” 100% recommend, whoever you are and whatever you like reading.

Teen SRC 2018 – The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Image result for lovely bones book

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder — a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family’s need for peace and closure.

The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was violated and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.

Sebold creates a heaven that’s calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive — and then some. But Susie isn’t ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature.

This book is one of my most favourite ones ever, and I think it deserves to be a classic. It holds some power over me because I cry every single time I read it. I watched the movie a few years ago, and although the actors were well casted, it did not do much damage as the book. It covers realistic and hard topics and is not suited for everyone (needs a mature reader), but it is a beautiful book mostly focusing on Susie’s point of view (even after death), which I think is very artistic and filled with symbolism.

I recommend this book to those who like reading crime, philosophical, and coming of age novels.

Teen SRC 2017 – The Door in the Lake by Nancy Butts

Image result for the door in the lakeWho would’ve ever thought that lakes could deliver you to another galaxy? Well, this author definitely thought so. I had heard of this book when my friends had been telling me about it throughout the summer. Or more specifically, one particular friend has been nagging me to read it.

I obviously gave in, and what do you know? It transported me right into the world of mystery and aliens! The first page, however, made no sense to me whatsoever, but when I read the next few, the details stayed in my mind rather than using it as a tunnel to go through.

The praises for the book caught my attention right at the start. After reading the blurb, I read the praises for it. (I know. I’m weird, reading the comments of the book and all). And what a surprise it was! I didn’t quite agree on every comment. Such as the one where School Library Journal said how the book was ‘Quick and Exciting’. It was definitely exciting, but I had to read the book over and over again to get all the details, so I wouldn’t exactly say it was ‘quick’.

Now that I’m done with the chit-chat, I will talk about what this whole book is generally about!

Technically, a boy named Joey was on a camping trip with his family, but he suddenly disappears in the real world. And re-appears two years later.

He hasn’t aged at all — at least, doesn’t seem like he has aged at all. But Joey keeps on having a runny nose, and memories of a light by the lake, so he goes to the lake where he disappeared, and encounters strange sightings.

I loved this sci-fi book, and I give it a 5 out of 5!

Teen SRC 2017 – Nowhere Girl by A.J. Paquette

Image result for nowhere girlThis book particularly attracted my attention because nobody can be a ‘Nobody’ right?

This book is about a girl named Luchi Ann, and she was born in the prison of Thailand. She was born there because her mother was a prisoner. Now that her mother is dead, she has to find a place where she feels included.

She feels like she is NOBODY, and she goes on a miraculous adventure searching for a home, and her place with love.

I really liked this book because it was heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one.