Customer Review

37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I want to shoot the Messenger, April 5, 2011
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This review is from: Messenger (Giver Quartet Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
If you love and cherish The Giver, avoid Messenger at all cost! Even if slightly tempted to read it, just avoid it completely for the following reasons:

I've held The Giver in high regard ever since I read it 15 years ago. The Giver is not just a great children's book, it is a great book, PERIOD. It strikes a balance between developing the setting of the community and developing the characters and how they assimilate (or not assimilate) to the society. The much talked about ambiguous ending is fitting because a reader can interpret it with whatever pessimism or optimism they choose. The journey of reading through The Giver is one that I enjoy reliving every year since my first reading.

It wasn't until this year that I decided to continue that journey by reading the rest of the books in the series. Gathering Blue is seemingly unrelated to The Giver, with the exception of a brief mentioning of a boy with striking blue eyes in some far away village. In fact, if I didn't know ahead of time that Gather Blue was part of The Giver trilogy, I would not have even guessed it. Gathering Blue stands on its own since it does not touch on anything developed in The Giver. Whereas The Giver might be thought of as the future of western civilization as technical advances continue to contribue to the "equality" of society, Gathering Blue might be thought of as the future of non-first world countries where equality is achieved by barbaric means. And, like describing the Unites States of today and describing the Zimbabwe of today, these two countries, like the settings of The Giver and Gathering Blue, exist in the same world but their stories don't overlap.

Messenger, instead of creating it's own story from this expansive future, decides to try and link The Giver and Gathering Blue and does so in the worst way possible. Keeping with the U.S./Zimbabwe analogy, Messenger would be like somebody trying to create a new country with people from both the U.S. and Zimbabwe so that these countries might somehow relate. My analogy seems horrible, and rightfully so, because Messenger is just as bad for trying to create that link.

Jonas in The Giver and Kira in Gathering Blue have special abilities but they can be attributed to an intuition. It is an existential dilema and feeling that the characters have, which is not too different from that same intuition we feel as we grow and establish our identities and how we perceive our environment. There is some bit of "magic" one must accept in The Giver, but besides that, the worlds are relatively "normal" keeping within the realm of science fiction. Messenger destroys this and now these intuitive extra senses become full on powers. Character can heal wounds and see the future and the forest literally comes alive and kills people, making the story a complete fantasy world rather than the plausible sci-fi world.

On top of the ludicrous magic fantasy is the obvious and forced attempt at trying to link the two previous books. Messenger only serves as a means to that end. There is no great setting and no great character development as found in the previous books. It literally is nothing more than throwing an obvious symbolic problem at the main character so that he goes on an obvious symbolic journey where the main characters of the previous books meet up. Again, since the purpose of this book is to link the previous two, the characters in this book seem flat and boring and their journey seems rushed.

Upon finishing the book, I felt cheated. No longer were The Giver and Gather Blue their own unique stories. Messenger effectively ruins the interpretive ambiguity of its predecessors and does so in the most atrocious way. They are now linked by a horribly stupid magical world. I only wish I could unread Messenger to save myself from the utter letdown of having an entire world destroyed by a feeble attempt to create a cohesive trilogy.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 10, 2012 9:52:18 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2012 9:53:36 AM PST
I read The Giver 17 years ago -- twice. I have been waiting for sequel to The Giver, perhaps calling the sequel, "The Receiver."
The Giver was thought provoking and I agree with Daniel's comments on The Giver. Thanks for the detailed info on Gathering Blue and Messenger. Recently, I bought the Kindle version of The Giver and am looking forward to reading it once again.

Posted on Oct 28, 2012 1:24:32 AM PDT
Bevo warrior says:
I agree there is some truth to your comment on the Messenger but you may have done it a disservice. There sutble perceiption gained from reading varies, often chronologically. 15 years have passed since you read the Giver and its sequels; it is only logically your experience also changed. I have read the Giver, Gathering Blue and the Messenger within a month. Different, yet I can relate the "worlds" described in each book. The books paint a massive changing world with a part of it polluted with greed, power, and struggle. It is different from the first book but still coherent with the second book.

Posted on Jan 24, 2014 4:17:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 24, 2014 4:20:45 PM PST
Mevashir says:

Your review is well written and passionate, but I just CANNOT agree with you!

Messenger is different from Giver, but I found it equally enthralling. I don't think the connection between the two books is tenuous at all. Rather it is subtle, but still one of the most important characters in Messenger derives right from Giver. The connection is plausible and sensible to me.

As for the "magic powers" you decry in Messenger, they do take things to a new level compared to Giver, but I think they are on par with the claims about people in the bible and many religious traditions who have supernatural powers. Seer in the book is a name given to the Jewish prophets. There is a very brief allusion to Jesus in the beginning of Messenger, and I think many of the events in the book parallel the miracles of Jesus' ministry, put into a child's story (that also is very moving to adults!). If people accept the fantasy writings of Tolkein and C S Lewis, why not this book by Lois Lowry? I find Lowry's books very impactful and much easier to penetrate than those of these two more famous British authors.

About the forest attacking people that you find so distasteful: I think this image is drawn right out of the opening chapters of Genesis, where the fall of man due to sin causes him to be expelled from Paradise and the world to become infested with thorns and thistles and death itself. This is exactly the theme conveyed in Messenger, so beautifully and sensitively, for as people in Village allow selfishness to corrupt their own generous characters this evil comes to pervert nature itself. This is a great biblical theme and a cornerstone of Christian theology in fact!

Your comment about the USA and Zimbabwe I don't understand at all. I feel that Village symbolizes the USA at its ideal best, as a place that will ingather refugees from around the world. These refugees often come from very advanced countries themselves; in fact rarely are they bushmen from Africa! And I think the author is trying to warn us of the perils of a selfish consumerist society that the USA has become since the days of the industrial revolution as we have foresaken our Jeffersonian agrarian roots to become a society fixated on money materialism and sensualism.

I think this short little book packs an amazing amount of powerful metaphor into its pages and gives the reader much to ponder. It is exactly the opposite of the flashy drugstore thrillers and chillers with their fancy New York publishing house covers and lurid come ons but once inside you encounter hundreds of pages of cheap sensationalism and literary rubbish.

I urge you to think about my comments and to reread this book with an open mind and an open heart. I think you will find it surprisingly inspiring!

God Bless You!

Posted on Feb 8, 2014 1:15:12 AM PST
JR Corry says:
I'm sorry you feel that way, Film. I found Messenger very meaningful and cried for thirty minutes minimum after finishing it.

Posted on May 13, 2014 10:53:17 AM PDT
Geneva G. says:
My sentiments exactly. There were no "magic" powers in The Giver and Gathering Blue, just people with amazing gifts much as there are people with amazing gifts today. So when magic powers show up in Messenger, it just doesn't seem to go with the world. If Lowry had, from the beginning, set out to create a fantasy world rather than a sci-fi dystopia it would have been ok. As it is, it just seemed too juxtaposed with her other books.
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