2017 Reading Challenge: Messenger Novel Review: Who Needs Plot Anyway?

Messenger by Lois Lowry

Warning: This review contains spoilers for Gathering Blue

As you may have read in my previous review, I was most disappointed by the second book of the Giver Quartet, Gathering Blue. Although Messenger is a notable improvement, it is still a light-years away from the unique complexities of the Giver.

In the third installment we follow Matty, the young ruffian from Gathering Blue (whose use of language was most irritating to read, but luckily this wasn’t continued in this novel as he learned to speak ‘properly’). Matty has now moved into Village with Kira’s blind father, Seer, although Kira has remained at her old village to complete her embroidery work.

While there were endless descriptions of Kira’s embroidery in the previous book, Messenger has in depth descriptions of Seer’s cooking. It details the recipes and the herbs and ingredients used to the extent that I initially assumed it had something to do with the plot. Alas no, Seer just loves cooking.

The overall story did have a bit more bite to it – pardon the pun – but the build up led nowhere. The main sense of threat is that the people of the Village are trading with one another, but rather than trading things they are trading parts of themselves. Greed takes over and they rally together to close the borders of Village to halt refugees from sapping their supplies. Before the border closes Seer wants Matty to get Kira from her village so she can live with them.

While this is going on Matty is developing a skill. When he concentrates he can heal wounds, although this drains him whenever he does it.

At first I thought Messenger was going to be about the refugees. Then I thought it was going to be about Matty’s relationship with Seer, Kira, or Leader. Then I thought it was going to be about sexuality. Finally I thought it was going to be about his supernatural gift, but when that didn’t develop into anything I was stumped. What was the focal point of this novel?

I had the exact same issue with the previous story. Lowry invests so much time into details that never add up to anything and it can be quite frustrating. The injustice and oppression is never questioned, just sidestepped. There is no real catharsis, so my only hope is that it all comes to a head in the last novel.

I’ve read a few chapters of the final book, Son, and it does seem to have a little more ‘go’ in it compared with the other two books, but who knows. My optimism is dwindling.


This review is part of my 2017 Reading Challenge.



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