I read The Messenger by Markus Zusak as a teenager, and adored it. I have no idea why I waited so many years to read this one but I'm glad I finally picked it up! It's one of those books that sits on a fine line between Children/Middle grade and Young Adult.
Rating: 4 out of 5. I think this was too hyped up for me to enjoy it as much as I would have if I'd read it before hearing how wonderful it was. It was a bit slow moving for my taste.
Age suggestion: At least 10+. For many kids, 11 or 12+. See content notes.
Ability level: This is a tricky one. It's a very long book, with a lot of deep content. I don't recall there being a ridiculously high level of vocabulary, but there are definitely more complex themes at play. I'd say high grade 5 / high grade 6 level, for passionate readers. Of course there are always exceptions.
Content notes:Spoiler alert - this book is narrated by death. It's not a happy, Disney story where all the characters live happily ever after. It's set during World War 2, following a range of characters including two pre-teens. Despite all of this, there's an underlying sense of hope and love.
If you've got mature kids looking for a challenging book, this is a beautiful read. I haven't seen the movie yet, but look for my opinion in my upcoming movie vs book competition.