Markus Zusak is a 45-year-old Australian writer who has earned himself a prominent place in the literary world through his extraordinary penmanship within a short period.
The young writer has six books to his credit, but The Book Thief became a significant hit, gaining a huge fan base. It has been translated into 40 different languages and made into a film by the same name.
Zusak’s stories show strong characterization where each individual’s emotions are carefully carved as they overcome different obstacles in their life. He cleverly uses foreshadowing in his narratives that keep the readers gripped, exciting them to find answers.
Moreover, Zusak has successfully mastered the genres of young adult and historical fiction. His writing is simple yet powerful. That’s why he has earned many awards like Indies Choice Book Awards, Kathleen Mitchell Award, and National Jewish Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. His novel, I am Messenger, has also bagged awards such as New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards and Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature.
Here’s an overview of the books written by this young writer so far:
1. The Book Thief
I have hated words, and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.
The book starts with Death narrating the story of how it met the book thief named Liesel. The girl, her mother, and brother Werner were on their way to a town called Molching.
During their journey on the train, Werner dies suddenly, and the family stops to bury him, where Liesel steals a book from the gravedigger. Later, her mother leaves her in the new town where a foster family adopts her, but Liesel isn’t very fond of them.
Soon, Liesel befriends a neighbor boy, Rudy, who teaches her to read the book she had stolen. But the book thief doesn’t stop there and continues to steal books on different occasions, with Death keeping a close eye on her.
Death picks up the book left behind by Liesel titled The Book Thief. A few years down the line, Death returns with the book, only this time it has come to take the book thief’s soul.
This novel is tragic, beautifully narrating the pain of losing someone and how closely Death follows us. In her review of The Book Thief, Lorien Kaye critically analyzes the novel for its technique and narrative importance.
2. I Am the Messenger
Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.
The novel I am the Messenger is a story of a typical 19 years old cab driver, Ed Kennedy, who becomes a hero overnight.
Going about his usual routine, on one fine day, Ed finds himself trapped in the middle of a bank robbery. But thanks to his quick decision-making ability, this young lad can stop the robbers from escaping by pointing their gun at them.
Ed is then glorified as the town’s new hero as he is called in to testify against the robbers later. Soon after, he receives an envelope sent to him by an unknown sender carrying Ace of Diamonds with three different addresses jotted down on them.
He helps people on the mentioned addresses and soon starts receiving more envelopes with addresses for him to visit and help those in need.
Theresa Smith has rightfully mentioned in her review of I am the Messenger that the book is suspenseful, romantic, funny, and tragic all at the same time.
3. Bridge of Clay
A murderer should probably do many things, but he should never, under any circumstances, come home.
Markus Zusak’s Bridge of Clay is young adult fiction, a story of growing up while losing your loved one, the struggle to connect with a long-lost family member, and the process of overcoming grief.
Matthew Dunbar digs up a typewriter that his father had buried along with a dog and a snake. He struggles to learn more about his family’s history to figure out his father’s whereabouts and reconnect with the family that lost connection after Matthew’s mother passed away.
The story is the epitome of love for one’s family, struggle to stay united, and build bridges to keep connected. Matthew’s brother Clay builds a bridge to reunite the family, inspiring the book’s name, Bridge of Clay.
Corey is all praise for this novel in her review of Bridge of Clay. It took her a while to get started because she felt an abundance of characters, but once she did, Zusak’s characterization was so on-point, she had no problem establishing a connection with them.
4. The Underdog
I was standing there, waiting for someone to do something, till I realized the person I was waiting for was myself.
It’s Mark Zusak’s first novel with two sequels. The Underdog is a story of three brothers, Cameron, Ruben Wolfe, and Steve. Cameron is the underdog of the family as one of the other two brothers always outshines him.
Steve is more hardworking and determined, while Ruben is a true charmer making Cameron feel like a loser among the three.
Cameron and Ruben are best friends, more than brothers, doing everything together. Cam soon realizes that he always tends to get in trouble when he’s with Ruben. To help them keep out of trouble, their father starts taking Cam to his work on weekends, where he falls in love with a lady who seems perfect to him.
The Underdog is a story with solid characterization and fabulous dialogues. The narrative examines how one can get hold of one’s life to move in the right direction. With Cameron unable to focus on anything around him and Ruben always looking for trouble, the Wolfe brothers’ life needs to be redirected.
A story about brotherly bond and finding similarities in your differences, The Underdog is a depiction of today’s youth who are hardworking yet fiery, talented yet carefree, as mentioned in The Underdog’s review by Suey, a true Markus Zusak fan at heart.
5. Fighting Ruben Wolfe
It’s funny, don’t you think, how time seems to do a lot of things? It flies, it tells, and worst of all, it runs out.
The Underdog’s sequel, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, tells how the brothers’ lives take separate turns due to their sorrow over family troubles. One day at school, Ruben finds himself throwing punches at a kid bullying him.
The news of the fight takes over the media like wildfire and reaches a stranger who owns an illegal boxing ring. He invites Cameron and Ruben to ring, leading to a series of incidents that change their life for the better or the worse!
It is a powerful, poignant novel of brotherly love, family troubles, and growing strong from the ashes of sorrow. According to Book Zone for Boys, many boys will be able to form a connection with Cameron’s delusional teenage narrative instantly. He admires that the novel is relevant without overly patronizing.
6. Getting the Girl
Sometimes I just survive. But sometimes I stand on the rooftop of my existence, arms stretched out, begging for more.
In the last book of the sequel, Zusak takes the reader deep into Cameron Wolfe’s life, who helps his father with his plumbing work and falls in love with a girl named Octavia.
It turns out that Octavia is Ruben’s current girlfriend. But for Cameron, it’s too late as he has already fallen for those lovely eyes. But will Octavia fall for a loser like him? Will Cameron be able to confess his love for the young lady?
The story takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions through a time where love overpowers the brotherly bond, and every relation threatens to fall apart!
Getting the Girl is a complete drama consisting of emotions that range from strong brotherly bonding to wishful love! The characters are independent and sensible with strong willpower that drives them to achieve their goals, beautifully analyzed by Jeanna in her review of Getting the Girl.
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