The Messenger by Lois Lowry

Strange changes are taking place in Village. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message that Village will soon be closed to outsiders. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he is armed with only an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand. Messenger is the masterful third novel in Lois Lowry’s bestselling Giver Quartet, which includes The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Son.

Trouble is brewing in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on welcoming 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 as well. Now he must risk everything the fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.

The Messenger is a laid-back beach read that approaches the kind of serious, real-world issues you expect classics to discuss. While there is a lot of parallels between the story and society’s attitude toward immigration and national security, there is so much more underneath.

The story itself is fine, if not a bit odd, and falls seamlessly in line with Lowry’s other works. It’s short and the plot is, on the whole, simple. The setting is a supposed utopia that the reader is meant to question and the main character is simultaneously well-developed and incredibly vague. (I’ve always liked Lowry’s ability to make her characters relatable without chipping away at their background or the story.) I think there’s a different form of redemption to The Messenger‘s ending though.

Ultimately, The Messenger spoke to me as a story that emphasizes the ironic way human beings treat our environment. Our behavior often disregards the sanctity of our planet and, in the worst cases, outright abuses it for our own (mankind-conceived) gain. At the end of all, we go right back into the earth; it’s not really ours so much as we are a part of it. I can’t say that Lowry wrote The Messenger with that idea in mind, but I’d like to think she did.

Synopsis from

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