Review: Messenger by Lois Lowry
Published September 25th, 2012 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published April 26th, 2004).
Trouble is brewing in Village. Once a utopian community that welcomed strangers, Village will soon be cut off to all outsiders. As one of the few able to traverse the forbidding Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter Kira to return with him before it’s too late. But Forest is now hostile to Matty, too, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it. Messenger is the masterful third novel in Lois Lowry’s Giver Quartet, which includes The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Son—all newly designed! (Goodreads)
It should be known by now that I read The Giver last year and it became my favorite book of all time. I fell in love with the story, the characters, and the writing. Yes, I can be down right obsessive about it if we’re being honest but the fact remains that book is a masterpiece. Also, if I am being honest I can say that nothing else has been able to hold up to that story so I have to read without comparing. This quartet has become so important to me and I can see the stories meaning something at each phase of someone’s life. If I read this book at 15 it would have been enjoyable but I don’t think they would be some of my favorites of all time. I think now that I am a bit older, hopefully wiser and have a different perspective on the world these books mean something entirely different to me.
So what is Messenger about? We’re back in a somewhat familiar world this time following Matty the self-proclaimed messenger who takes it upon himself to deliver messages for the leader of the community. Matty lives with the Seer and to understand the characters and the world and titles I would suggest starting with The Giver. The seer is blind and while he is not Matty’s father he has become somewhat of a father figure to Matty. If you’re read Gathering Blue, the second book in the quartet then you might be familiar with Matty. Matty, the Seer and the other people in this village are experiencing some changes, although Matty can’t quite place what’s happening. Again this story really digs into some heavier topics. For as long as Matty remembers the village has allowed and even welcomed outsiders. They have been welcome to come and become a part of the community. Now because of the changes some of the villagers want to close off the village and not accept any more newcomers. After the townspeople vote it is decided that a wall will be built and no more newcomers will be accepted. The leader sends Matty through the forest to post signs letting people know the village is not accepting any new members. The seer asks Matty while he is out to stop by and let his daughter Kira know that the village is being closed and that she must return with Matty. As Matty who has never had trouble traversing the forest before enters the forest to begin posting the notices he realizes that the forest is very different. It’s darker somehow.
I’m not going to give too much more away because it’s a rather short story and you really need to experience it for yourself. Lois Lowry has a way of lulling you into a false sense of security. Her writing is masterful. She is not one to mince words, add fluffy descriptions, or info dump. Every single word she puts down on the pages of her books has a purpose. The story came together quite differently than I was expecting. I loved the story but I felt fooled and tricked by Lowry. How did she do that? I actually had to slam the book around a bit to let out some frustrations and I even kicked it a couple of times for good measure. If you haven’t read these books then you need to get on it. They are real works of dystopian before dystopian became so darn trendy. Highly recommend!
“He wept, and it felt as if the tears were cleansing him, as if his body needed to empty itself.”