on June 24, 2004
If you're anything like me, The Giver was a powerful and thought-provoking book. I was looking forward to some suspense of the same intensity, but closure as well. I had enjoyed the change of pace with Gathering Blue and was intrigued to see how the two stories would be tied together. Overall, the book was just too short. Characters were not developed as fully and the connection between the two worlds seemed almost trivialized. By the end if you missed even one word, nothing made sense.
The last chapter was a frenzy and the ending was too much of a "quick-fix" for a group of books that dealt with very heavy issues. I did like the portrayal of the Village and the interesting change in people who forgot their past and the kindness others had shown them. It would be a good tie in with immigration stories.
However, I just wanted more, more answers, more explanation. What was Jonas like now besides his job description? He seemed to walk around in an overly wise daze. What had happened to his town? All in all, I would say stick to The Giver for classroom use. Gathering Blue and Messenger have good issues to address as well, but The Giver does so with the most clarity and excellence in writing.
on May 4, 2004
The Giver and Gathering Blue are two books that have a profound effect because they explore the mixture of good and evil above and below the surface in varying versions of possible post-apocolyptic societies. Messenger is not a fitting end to the other two. It seems an insult to the complexity of mankind, and the good and evil of the societies she has constructed to have an end solution lie with an all-good, all-giving martyr character.
on June 1, 2004
I read this book so as to know which books are best for recommending to my children and other youths with whom I work. This is the fifth Lowry book I have read, and I would recommend each for as early as the middle/junior high school age group. I think that many adults would also appreciate the stories.
Of the three books in this trilogy (The Giver, and Gathering Blue being the others), I found this book to be equal to Gathering Blue, but neither as good as the Giver. The current book is full of religious and secular-humanistic metaphors. We have the savior figure dying for the sins of others, the citizens losing their souls for selfish and materialistic desires, and the author uses anti-immigrant attitudes to emphasize the loss of the public soul.
As with some other Lowry books, the ending will leave some unsatisfied. However, I enjoy endings with the resolution is left to the reader's imagination. This is particularly of value for sparking conversations within one's circle of friends, family or classroom. It is also a good technique for developing one's creativity. I read other Lowry books with my children and they led to good dinning table conversations. I fully recommend this book for ages ten and older, but the story will be lost for those who have not read the other two books.
on April 26, 2004
In this book, a companion novel to The Giver and Gathering Blue, Matty is a messenger, one of the few with the power to travel through the forest. When his community, so well-known for their acceptance of strangers, decides to close its gates, Matty and his mentor know that something very wrong is happening- and Matty, with his still undeveloped power, may be the only one who can stop it.
I am a great fan of the Giver, and enjoyed Gathering Blue a lot, so I was very excited when this book came out, and read it in a single day. However, I was extremely disappointed. It felt like the author had written it simply because she promised a third book, not because she had a really cool idea. The characters seemed shallow and undeveloped, and the description of the village didn't fit in with the one given in Gathering Blue. You never find out the actual problem of the village, and the ending leaves way too many holes- and not ones that are designed to make you think.
on June 3, 2004
While this book isn't exactly your typical fairy tale, if you like magical stories, you'll like this book. Have you read The Giver and Gathering Blue? If not, you should definitely read these books before you read Messenger. Lois Lowry connects these two books in Messenger.
In Messenger the main character's name is Matty. Matty is the only one who can travel through Forest without being killed, so he takes messages to outside villages. He hopes that when he gets his real name he will be Messenger. At the beginning of this book Matty's friend Ramon gets a "Gaming Machine" that his family traded for at Trade Mart. Then, some of the people of Village, who used to be very welcoming to new people in their village, want to close Village to all outsiders. A meeting is called to decide whether Village will be closed or not. Soon, some "new ones" come to Village. They are welcomed as usual, but a small group of people protest. The schoolteacher, who used to be very welcoming to "new ones," leads them. The people of Village are given names based on what they do. For example, Seer, the man Matty lives with that is blind; Leader; and Mentor, the schoolteacher. Matty discovers he has a power to heal things. He saves a frog, a dog, and a puppy from dying. Then, Matty decides he wants to go and see what Trade Mart is like. When Matty is there, he notices odd procedures. He also notices changes in behavior of people who have traded. You can hear what each person is trading for but not what the person is trading for it. One change in behavior is when one woman whose husband walks slowly, yells at her husband to hurry up which she has never done before. Next, Jean, Mentor's daughter, gives Matty her puppy, which Leader names Frolic. Frolic goes everywhere with Matty. Matty goes to the meeting that will decide whether Village will stay open to outsiders anymore or not. The decision ends up being that Village will close, although Matty is opposed to this. He is sent to post the message that Village is closing. He also agrees to bring Seer's daughter, Kira, back to Village before it closes. Before he leaves, he is told not to spend his gift and has to resist the urge to use it when he sees Ramon is sick. On the way through Forest, it is a little more challenging than usual. Matty learns about Kira's power to see the future. When Matty takes Kira back through the Forest, they face many unusual challenges. Some of these are burning sap and poking branches. Leader goes after Matty and Kira because he can see beyond and tell that they are in trouble. To save the world, using his power to heal, Matty has to make some major sacrifices.
I give this book three out of five stars. This is because it was disappointing compared to The Giver and Gathering Blue. This book has a slow start. It takes a while to get to the action. The book doesn't grab you in right away. Some things that were good about this book are that is was really interesting when you would find a connection to either The Giver or Gathering Blue. One example is that Matty was the mischievous little boy that Kira was friends with. The characters of this book are interesting. For example, it is interesting to see how Matty changes. He used to call himself "the fiercest of the fierce." Now, Matty doesn't do that. You also get into this book later.
Matty is a brave boy. He is proud that he is the only one who can go into Forest. It is unique that he can go through Forest. He is eager to get his real name, and he wants it to be Messenger. Matty was happy with his life until things began to change. The nice people and things of Village turned bad. In this book, Matty discovers that he has a power. His power is that he can heal things that are hurt or dying. He healed a frog whose leg was bitten almost all the way off. He also healed a sick puppy and its mother. This is something that is unique to him.
A key scene in this novel is at the very end, when Matty saves the world. Matty is almost dying because Forest turned bad and is hurting them with things like burning sap. Leader, using his power to see beyond, and Kira, using her power to see ahead, meet. Leader tells Kira that they need Matty's power, now. Matty doesn't think there is any way that he has enough energy to use his power, but he turns over and puts his hands on the ground. He feels his power going out of him. Everything is better. Forest isn't evil anymore, Mentor is back to his old ways of reading poetry and being welcoming, and Ramon is no longer sick. Matty sees all of these things changing. He drifts out of his body. He watches himself giving all his energy to the world.
This scene was a really good way to end the book. This is because it just resolves everything in a nice way. Things are a little more normal back in Village and the people have stopped trying to close Village.
In conclusion, I somewhat recommend this book. If you like magic or you like to discover little connections and other interesting things, this is a great book for you. I would recommend that before you read this book, you should read The Giver and Gathering Blue.
on May 23, 2004
Living in a caring, peaceful world, Mattie loves his home. He used to live in a cruel world where he got beaten and learned to steal. He travels to a new village where they take care of him and heal him. His village always takes in new people, helps and cares for them. Then, Mattie's village starts trading and has trading sessions in big groups. Not only did people trade more than just things, but it was making the people of the village, Village very different and hasty towards
People starting trading their souls for their appearance in order to look incredible for their love or for some other reason. After the people made a trade from the Trade Master they starts acting different and doesn't want new people to come to their village any longer. They decide to build a wall surrounding Village so that the new ones who are injured and just want a new home or anyone else for that matter can not come there anymore. Seer, an old blind man who lives with Mattie and is like a father to him, is worried for his daughter who eventually wants to come live with them. He is afraid that his crippled daughter will be blocked off from Village and he might never see his precious daughter again.
Seer asked Mattie to kindly retrieve his daughter from her village before they put up the wall to block new comers forever. Mattie agrees. Some people have special gifts that sometimes have great use. Mattie, Leader, and Kira, the blind
mans daughter are three people with extraordinary gifts. Mattie has the gift to heal, Kira has the gift to sew and see the future through her work, and Leader has the gift to see beyond into the future. Mattie is going to retrieve Kira before his Village closes off new ones, but to get through he needs to go through the forest. The forest is very dangerous because it can kill and strangle people within its branches. Mattie has gone through the forest many a time, so he is not afraid until Leader uses his gift to see that the forest is strangely different than usual. Mattie successfully makes it to Kira's village and persuades her to go back with him.
As they travel back to Mattie's village the forest starts poking and greatly harming Kira and Mattie. They don't think they will be able to survive and neither does Leader as he looks at them from his home using his special gift. Fortunately for them, Leader decides to go after them and try to save them from the lethal forest. Kira, Mattie, and Leader all use their spectacular gifts to save Village from becoming a bitter town and them from the strangling forest as it slowly rips them apart. The young boy gives his life away using his gift for his village and the people he loves.
The Messenger is a fantastic book and I could not put it down. It makes you feel like you are in the book. It is so exciting and I had great suspense as I waited to see what would happen next. The way it was in a different world so different from ours, with gifts and special villages full of kindness and people who care greatly for others. The Messenger was easy to understand and one of a kind.
on May 21, 2004
This book brings together Lowry's previous phenomenal works of frightening future societies, "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue." While both of those books were Orwellian in their own right, this book, though pretty good, is nowhere near that level.
It takes place a few years after Matty had left his friend Kira to go off to a far-off village with Kira's blind father. Matty has changed from the street-wise urchin to a responsible caring young teen, mostly from the guidance of Kira's father (Seer) and his schoolteacher, Mentor. Like the two previous books, a major event happens to young people at about Matty's age. The event here is that the person receives their new name, which is usually based on something they do. Since Matty is Village's messenger, he hopes for that name.
Also, like Jonas and Kira before him, Matty starts realizing he has a power. His power is the ability to heal. However, each time he uses it he uses considerable energy and it takes him a while to recover his strength.
Village's leader (who has the name Leader) is none other than Jonas from The Giver. Great legends have sprung up about Leader, with the sled that he arrived in as a major museum piece. Village has been open to all outcasts from all other villages, and has treated all arrivals with respect and honor. All that seems to be changing.
Weird things seem to be happening to people who attend a kind of town auction called Trade Mart. People that go there seem to be changing and not for the better. Seer and Matty start to realize this and things start to get worse as the townspeople, led by Mentor want to close Village's borders to all outsiders. Eventually, a vote is taken and it is agreed that this is to happen in a few weeks. Seer, worried that his daughter may not ever be able to come to Village, has Matty go on a mission to bring her to Village before the border closes.
Matty goes to see Leader and tells him what he must do. Leader agrees and realizes the importance of getting Kira to Village because the Forest is also doing strange things and becoming ever more dangerous every passing minute. Leader will need Kira's special abilities combined with his own and Matty's to defeat whatever evil is threatening all.
What made the other two books work so well was that they were independent stories that did not require reading one or the other first. Also, both societies though very different had harsh means to eliminate non-conforming individuals. This book loses something if you haven't read those books first.
Though Lois Lowry does have an amazing talent of packing a lot of story in very short books, I would love to see her write a much longer novel the next time around!
on May 18, 2004
In this eagerly anticipated companion to THE GIVER and GATHERING BLUE, it is the future, and the world has become a primitive place. Matty, Village's message carrier, lives with Seer, the blind man who took him in when Matty arrived in the town.
As his story begins, there is something Matty must do, although he fears it: he makes his way through Forest. Most of the other villagers won't venture into the increasingly dangerous woods because people, strangled by vines and branches, have died there. Forest welcomes Matty, however, and he has memorized the mazelike paths. This evening's mysterious quest leads to a certain frog. We learn that Matty discovered he has extraordinary powers when he healed this frog and brought him back from the brink of certain death. This potential force, with its implied responsibilities, terrifies Matty.
There are mysterious happenings in Matty's once-perfect Village. The family of Matty's friend Ramon recently traded for a Gaming Machine, a toy that rewards players with candy. Matty yearns for one of his own but worries about Ramon, who grows increasingly ill. A group, led by Matty's teacher, Mentor, has begun to protest Village's traditional open door to immigrants. This troubles Matty; it is so unlike the caring Mentor he has always admired. In fact, his teacher appears subtly different each time Matty sees him: Mentor is taller, thinner, and both his bald spot and his birthmark are disappearing.
Are the ominous changes in town related to the Trade Mart? What are people really trading? When Matty attends, everyone's hands are empty. Although they're making deals with the Trade Master, they bring nothing and carry nothing away. Some in the crowd weep; others argue. Most, though, are silent and nervous.
Matty promises Seer that he will travel through Forest to the village on the other side in order to bring Seer's daughter, Kira, to him. The clock is ticking because the villagers plan to build a fence by a certain date, admitting no newcomers. Matty believes they have time --- until Forest attacks the travelers. The trip toward Village becomes a nightmare journey, complete with flesh-tearing roots and twigs, blistering sap, unbearable stench and strangling vines.
Lois Lowry's many fans will love this fantasy, which continues the stories of several characters previously encountered in THE GIVER and GATHERING BLUE. In elegant prose, the author doesn't flinch away from harshness yet somehow manages to offer up hope.
--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (...)
on May 10, 2004
Okay, I just finished reading the Messenger, 5 minutes ago. And I felt really compelled to write a review.
The Messenger was to me, very dissapointing. The ending of the story didn't seem to impact me at all. Okay, so someone dies. I didn't feel anything. I just felt disappointed about the death of the character.
It doesn't offer as much explaination about the previous books as well.
The rest of Lois Lowry's books made you feel emotion, made you feel the characters, and enwrapped you in the story and the plot. What was supposed to be the climax in this book, didn't have that feel of a climax and turning point. Her characters, though already introduced, many of them, with exception of Matty and the Seer, did not have enough character rounding, they were flat and seemed like strangers.
I really really hate to be the critic, but this book dissapointed me very much! I waited for this book for a while and though i didn't expect every single thing to be explained, I found to myself that this book really really paled in comparison to the rest of Lois Lowry's books. And just paled in general.
Sometimes though the author can understand stuff, the audience doesn't; we don't understand what's going on.
This book kind of drew me in at the beginning and middle, but then it dropped me out just as quickly.
You should get this book and read it just to get a feel for it, but don't get your hopes too high up, like me, and maybe some other readers who had read the previous books and agreed.
on April 22, 2004
The Book "The Messenenger" was a wonderful fantasy book that could be read by someone with any reading level. The main character in the book "Matty" was a strong, loving, and couragoues boy. His guardian "Seer" was also loving, couragoues, and strong bothe inside and out, although he was blind. Ever since Matty was a young boy when he first arrived to the village he always drempt of one day getting his real, true name! He always wanted to be named the "Messenger." One day Seer had heard that the village was building wall and closing it from other villages. Meaning that no othter villagers from outside their village was allowed to come in and stay. Seer was VERY upset when he heard the news and decided to give Matty a very important task! Seer had a daughter back in another village but she was still there becasue she only wanted to come over when the time was right! And now the time was right, so Seer asked Matty if he could go through the forest and bring his daughter to him. After many days of fighting through bloddy and painful times Matty returns home with Seers daughter Kaira, and saves the village from being closed down with his special gift that he uses alond the trip. After Leader (The namer) see what Matty did, he decides to name him "Healer." If you are a Lois Lowry fan this would be a great book to read! If you also like Lois Lowry's other books, "The Giver and "Gathering Blue" the book "Messanger" would be a great way to add on to the adventures of Lois Lowry's collection.