Even though this is one of Zusak’s early works, there’s something about his writing that really gets me. Certainly Getting the Girl
is not as refined as I Am the Messenger or The Book Thief. And if you’ve read those other two books, you can plainly see that Zusak has recycled some aspects from this earlier work, incorporating them with more explicit detail in those later novels. Yes, the writing style of this particular novel is rough and scruffy, yet it embodies Cameron Wolfe, the narrator, so well. Because the style’s so natural, it’s so much fun and such a pleasure to read. And I must say that I actually like it better than I am the Messenger
Cameron tells his story with a conversational tone. He’ll start telling a tale and become immersed and entertained by it, letting it flow naturally, even if he may stray from that initial thought that originally brought it up. Yet, unlike a traditional stream of consciousness format, you’ll never get lost in the prose. After his little tale is complete, Cam will back track, continuing on narrating his main train of thought.
The oral quality of Cam’s storytelling is also enhanced by the inclusion of his “words,” which add contrast to his story—i.e. those little writing pieces he creates in response to certain momentous events in his life. Cam’s “words” have a free verse poetic quality that manages to gradually reveal Cam’s inner self…that figurative butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. It’s Octavia who helps lead Cam onto this path. In a way, Octavia becomes an Estella to Cam’s Pip.
But what I really love about this book—the main reason why I rank it higher than I am the Messenger
—is how Cam describes the city. Through Cam’s eyes and his voice Sydney comes alive. The city constantly changes and shifts taking the form of Cam’s feelings at a particular moment in time. Through Cam’s eyes, the Sydney we see at the beginning is not quite the Sydney we see at the end. It’s a truly beautiful element of the story. Definitely a book I’d highly recommend.