Lowry has blown me away.
Matty’s life has improved greatly since he moved to Village six years ago. Living with Seer, the blind father of his friend Kira, Matty has grown up and come to know the ways of the Forest. He’s the only one who can safely navigate it, and he hopes to earn the name of Messenger.
Village has always fostered those in need of help, but something is changing. With dwindling resources and compassion, the people of Village want to close the city to outsiders. Seer asks Matty to bring Kira to Village before it can happen.
But Matty has a secret power, and the Forest is thickening.
Messenger is where The Giver and Gathering Blue finally collide and I am so happy for it. Jonas and Kira, with actual discussion about how thier communities have changed, was so satisfying.
And yet, this novel can stand on its own, and does it brilliantly. It’s a story about corruption creeping into a regular community, not about finding corruption in a dystopia, which was refreshing.
I am really happy to see this grown up, mature Matty. He’s still got slight traces of his boyishness but he’s definitely maturing. He still has a lot of understanding and growing to do, and it’s rather well done over the course of the story.
Seer is also a particular favourite of mine, acting as the Giver to Matty’s Reciever. He’s the father figure the Giver couldn’t really be though, which adds a nice touch of distress to the story.
However, for the most part, characters aren’t defined by their personalities, but rather what they do. And most of that is due to the nature of the story. Do I wish they explored Jean and Mentor’s characters better? Of course. But in her concise style, Lowry strips these characters down to pieces that move around the game board.
Is this terrible writing? Not necessarily. What I like about Lowry’s concise and stripped down style is that it implies that its not just these people that this happens to. It’s everyone. And that’s what The Giver series has always been about, little evils and miracles that effect us all.
I’m not so thrown by the surreal fantastical element this time around because it is well integrated this time. Lowry made it more of a common occurrence, something embedded into the universe, and so I accepted it easier, despite the lack of information.
My favourite aspect is Forest. The entire concept is mysterious and foreboding throughout the novel, though I never believed that the Forest was intentionally evil. It was influenced to be that way due to its surroundings, and more importantly the people nearby, is symbolic of the state of The Giver universe.
Messenger is about knowing what is special about you, and when to use it. It’s about control and knowing when to act.
The tradesmart is an interesting play with this idea, and certainly the “gifts” that people have play greatly into this.
But, as I said before, it’s key that its not just the gifted people who are burdened with the choice of when to use their gifts. Everyone who trades or thinks about trading toys with this decision, and its an important one to consider.
Messenger is the companion book to The Giver that I have been looking for.
Recommendation: Buy. While Gathering Blue is a maybe, definitely read Messenger. While focusing on a brand new character, it draws on what Giver started, and is a great companion novel.