Messenger is the third book in The Giver series. There are actually four books. I have already reviewed The Giver and Gathering Blue on One-elevenbooks and I want to finish the series out.
Our main character in this book is named Matty. We met him in Gathering Blue, but he was simply a supporting character in that story. Matty has left the town of his birth and went to a village in the forest. In the forest there are other people who have sought refuge from their original places. One of those people is Kira’s father, who is called Seer in the village, because he is blind, but seems to see beyond. Another person in the village is Jonas, he is called Leader. The legend is that he came there on a little red sled, which he did.
Matty is now Seer’s adopted son. He runs errands for the village. The forest lets him pass. The forest seems to be alive somehow. In the beginning of the book, Forest has killed one of the members of the village. New people are always welcome in the village, but there is a vote that could change that. Some of the village members want to close the village off from refuge seekers. Leader does not like this and neither does Seer.
Something is different in the village. People are changing. They are trading things at the trade-meeting, but it never appears that they take anything with them to trade. A little girl said her father has traded his true self. Matty realizes that he too has a gift. He healed a frog. Then he healed a dog and her puppy. He keeps his gift a secret, but Jonas knows. Jonas asks him not to use his gift yet because there will be a need for it. Jonas can see beyond.
The vote is cast and the vote is to close the village. Matty is sent on one last trip through the forest to the town to gather Kira. Kira is to come and live with her father in the village. The forest is clearly hostile on this journey. On the way back it seems to close in around them and Matty is finally called upon to use his gift.
What I liked
I really liked that the story circled back around to Jonas. I also like that Matty developed into such a neat character. He was neat before with his quirky speech and seeming jungle boy life-style, but really developed into someone great. The ending is bittersweet. I like that Kira came back into the picture as well.
I could see where the movie makers got some of the elements to create their world in the recent film adaptation of The Giver. Jonas’ house in this story is almost a dead-ringer for the Giver’s house in the movie.
What I didn’t like
This book doesn’t feel like a whole story. It feels very much like an intermission. It feels like just a way to tie Kira’s story to Jonas’ story. There doesn’t really seem to be a conclusion to everything. We know there is another book, so there isn’t a final conclusion of the story, but I don’t really feel as if Matty’s story had a proper conclusion.
I’m not too sure how I feel about all these special talents people are coming up with in this world. In the previous two books, sure, people were special, but I felt more that their specialness was an innate ability to do something rather than some special gift bestowed upon them. I don’t know if that makes any sense. In the previous two books, I felt as if Jonas’ and Kira’s seemingly special abilities could be explained scientifically. Jonas was just really observant or he had more cones in his eyes to see color; Kira was just artistically talented and probably also had more cones in her eyes to see color. I’m not going to explain rods and cones right now; look it up.
In this book, we pass scientific explanation. In this book we just get woo-woo. An element of woo-woo isn’t bad in a story. Woo-woo can make a story really neat, but this story hasn’t felt woo-woo to me before now. By woo-woo, I mean an element of the unexplained. It’s something that cannot ever be completely confirmed or denied by science such as ESP, mediums, aliens, ghosts, and so forth. Matty’s ability is woo-woo. Kira’s ability is woo-woo. Jonas’ ability is woo-woo. Seer’s ability is woo-woo. There is also something woo-woo going on with the trademaster in this story.
My problem with all of this is mostly my perception, because I perceived that this story was not woo-woo, when, in fact, it was. I have a problem with stories that seem perfectly explained by science all of a sudden getting woo-woo on me. Be woo-woo or don’t be woo-woo from the beginning. For example, you better not perfectly explain to me in a scientific manner why certain plot points in a story were happening and then all of a sudden go, “It was aliens.” I’m looking at you, Stephen King. If it’s aliens, make it aliens from the beginning. Make that a permanent possibility. It was either Russia or it was aliens. I’m probably being too harsh on alien enthusiasts. Nobody ever expects aliens, just like they never expect the Spanish Inquisition.
A Forest that comes after you? The ultimate woo-woo.
Little Red Riding Hood went out into the forest to deliver a basket of goodies to her grandmother, but she never got there, because the trees ate her. The wolf sat over on the side of the path whimpering because the trees weren’t leaving any for him. After the trees were finished, the wolf would get a chance at the bones.
cats, dogs, forest, healer, healing, kira, leader, lois lowry, matty, mentor, messenger, Messenger by Lois Lowry, seer, special gifts, The giver, the giver series, trade, trades true self
Children’s, Coming of age, Fantasy, Fiction, Lowry-Lois, Mystery, Romantic Fiction, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, what if, Young Adult