Monday, August 4, 2014

Messenger by Lois Lowry: I've been lied to all these years!

ISBN: 9780547995670
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Series: The Giver Quartet #3
Released: 2004
Length: 187 pp
Goodreads  |  B&N

*Please note this review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the series. Click here for a spoiler-free review of book 1, The Giver*

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.

After reading Gathering Blue, the second book in this series, and being somewhat disappointed, I didn't think I was going to enjoy Messenger much. It was the one of the three previously published books in the series that I hadn't bothered reading when I was younger (probably because I hadn't loved Gathering Blue back then either) so I had almost no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Messenger was about Matty (formerly Matt in GB) who was pretty much my favorite character.

*Okay, so as a precursor to the rant I'm about to go on, if you haven't read The Giver or Gathering Blue, just turn back now. What I'm about to say will spoil The Giver. Probably not GB and it most certainly isn't a spoiler for this book, Messenger, but if you plan on reading Giver, just come back later.*

So, when Son, the fourth book in this series, was released back in 2012, I had a total freak out. Being a huge fan of the The Giver, I was so excited to find out what happened to Jonas and Gabe and whether or not what they saw at the end of The Giver was real or whether it was a hallucination (I'd always been convinced [or hoped beyond hope] that it was real). A lot of reviews, posts, discussions, etc., even touted Son as the book that would tell me what happened to Jonas and Gabe.

Then I get to Messenger... and I frickin' find out what happened to them. I obviously will go no further, in case you decide you want to know for yourself, but WTF! Seriously, what. the. frig. I felt like I'd been bamboozled. Like I'd been lied to my whole life about this really important thing that happened to a couple of fictional characters that I happened to love like real people. I guess maybe that was my own fault, right? I should've just read Messenger back in the day and been done with it. But I was like 12, what do you want from me? I wasn't the masochist I am now. I wasn't going to read something I wasn't interested in. But I'd been researching this for like... over a decade, trying to figure out what happened to them, and here it was all this time (since 2004, anyway), waiting for me. Why didn't anyone tell me!!!

*For those of you that chose to stick around but wanted no spoilers, it is now safe to read spoiler-free.*

Messenger itself, once I got past that bombshell, was pretty great. It was creepy and it drew me in right from the beginning. Lowry has a knack for creating worlds we need to know more about. This is the third one in this series that she'd created and I'm still in awe. I loved Matt in Gathering Blue and he was still a great character to read about, especially as a lead, in Messenger.

The symbolism is rampant as always, but I can't go into it for fear of 1, going on forever and ever, and 2, spoiling something from the next book. The series has grown up a bit though. Matty is older, a teenager basically, I feel like this hooked me more because I considered it a YA novel rather than MG - obviously it's easier for me to relate to someone ten years younger rather than fifteen. That was also probably the reason I was so much more emotional with this one, too. I played right into Lowry's hands and she tore me right up.

My only gripe, and the thing that made dropped the rating by a whole star, was that as always, Lowry left so much unresolved. Maybe she thinks it's a cool thing to do, like how she ended The Giver. Yes, it worked that once. You don't have to leave me hanging every single time! Not even making 200 pages, I feel like if she'd made Messenger just a smidge longer, as long as the other books maybe which would have added about 30-50, she could have resolved the one other important thing (which yes, is kind of explained in the final book, but still!) and it would have been a really fantastic book.

Either way, I guess it doesn't matter since I know how that part of the story resolves now that I've read Son. So with that being said, I really did enjoy Messenger, almost as much as I loved The Giver.... almost. :)

RATING: ★★★★ - Enjoyed it!

I'd heard so many things about the two companion books to The Giver over the years, mainly about how crappy they are compared to The Giver. I won't make any excuses for Gathering Blue, but I was so pleasantly surprised by Messenger that I still have a hard time finding why it's so disliked. It drew me in from the beginning with (limited as always, but still) great world-building, characters you can understand, relate to and grow to care for and love, and simple but beautiful and profound writing that always manages to send one heck of a powerful message. I like to think of Matty as being the one to deliver this particular message (once you read this book, you'll know what I mean...).

I enjoyed Messenger so much and am glad that I finally decided to continue the series. Have any of you read Messenger? What did you think - as compared to Giver, to Gathering Blue, on its own? Did you, like me, find yourself surprised by how much you enjoyed it and enjoyed being sucked into a story like you'd been with The Giver? Or did you think it fell flat? If you did, was it because of the lack of resolution for certain parts of the plot?

Can't wait to hear what you think about this one!


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