‘Messenger’ by Lois Lowry

Messenger is a 2004 Young-adult fiction by the author Lois Lowry. It forms the third installment of The Giver Quartet. Characters from the two earlier books of the author reappear in Messenger, connecting the novels more strongly. Set in an isolated community known simply as Village, this novel focuses upon a boy named Matty, who serves as message-bearer through the ominous Forest that surrounds the community.

Messenger contains a high quantity of magic realism. Matty, who has lived in Village under the guidance of the blind man, Seer, known for his special sight. Since running away from an abusive childhood, Matty is looking forward to receiving his true name, which he hopes will be Messenger. But he is deeply unsettled by what is going on. He has discovered his own power to heal others and learned of disturbing changes within his community. Under the gentle guidance of Leader, who arrived in Village on a red sled as a young boy and who has the power of Seeing Beyond, the citizens have always welcomed newcomers, especially those who are disabled. But a sinister force is at work, which has prompted them to close admission to outsiders. Also, it seems that Matty’s beloved Mentor has been trading away parts of his inner self in order to become more attractive to Stocktender’s widow. When the date for the close of the border is decided, Matty must make one more trip through the increasingly sinister Forest to bring back Seer’s daughter, the gifted weaver Kira. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must risk everything to make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.

On the return journey, Matty must decide if he should use his healing but, self-destructive power to reverse the inexorable decline of Forest, Village, and its people. While readers may be left mystified as to what is behind the dramatic change in Village, Lowry’s skillful writing imbues the story with a strong sense of foreboding, and her descriptions of the encroaching Forest are particularly vivid and terrifying.

Reviewed by Nimmy S. Babu, PGT (Biotech)

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