(Cover picture courtesy of Tower Books.)
For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight. Village was once a place that welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the treacherous Forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.
Messenger is another one of those favourite novel study books, or at least it was in my school. After reading The Giver and discovering that the boys in my class (I was the only girl) didn’t completely hate it, our English teacher decided to do a Messenger novel study. True, Messenger is the third book in what used to be a trilogy, but reading the second book, Gathering Blue isn’t necessary for understanding the story. It does enhance your enjoyment, but you won’t be in the dark if you haven’t read it.
Messenger isn’t a bad book, but what annoys me is that there is no explanation for any of the fantastic elements in it like Seer’s ability to See Beyond, Forest’s transformation from good to evil and even Matty’s special power. I like it in books where the author has figured out an explanation for magic, but Lois Lowry never, in any of her books, explains the fantastic elements she includes. I suppose it’s not necessary to have an explanation, but it would be nice.
With that said, to me it seemed like Lois Lowry was guilty of beating-you-over-the-head-with-a-stick-obvious symbolism. Forest, which is friendly toward Matty before the people in Village become selfish, grows ever more hostile, dark and tangled as selfishness takes over. Obviously, Forest symbolizes the growing web of selfishness that is engulfing Village; it’s basically a mirror. Yes, it’s great to include it because you need to analyze literary devices in novel study, but does it have to be so glaringly obvious?
Other than the symbolism that seems ridiculously obvious, Messenger is a pretty good novel. Matty isn’t a great character, but he’s not a bad one either and the plot is interesting enough that we don’t get bored out of our minds. Up until October of this year, Messenger was supposed to be the last ‘Giver’ novel, so we see the protagonists of the first two novels, Jonas and Kira and most plot lines are tied up. I didn’t really like the ending (it wrapped things up a bit too nicely), but it truly was inevitable and there was a lot of foreshadowing throughout the novel that hinted at it.
I give this book 3.5/5 stars.