The star of this story is Ed Kennedy, a young and aimless teenager making do in suburban Australia. He works part time as taxi driver and otherwise spends his days playing cards with his friends, spending time with his dog The Doorman and longing for his friend Audrey to love him the way that he loves her. When calamity strikes one day and Ed ends up putting an end to a bank robbery, his life changes forever. He begins to receive playing cards with addresses written on them; tasks that he must complete or face the wrath of whoever is sending them to him. But who is sending him these cards?
Ed never has any idea what he is doing. He is forced to make decisions and live a life with some purpose. Some of his tasks are easy and some are hard. He is faced with violence, poverty, love and redemption. He learns about himself and his friends. This isn't a nice story; the tasks that Ed has to complete are often difficult and dangerous and he suffers for it. But the tasks provide him with some drive and ambition and he is able to pass that drive and ambition onto his friends and family when they need it.
I can't be more specific in my critique of The Messenger because it such a clever, surprising and emotional story that I don't want to in any way spoil your own reading experience of this book.
Where Zusack excelled is in the ending. Not only does The Messenger provide us with a touchingly personal story about one person's journey of self-discovery, it is also a story about the writers relationship with their own characters.