Customer Reviews: Messenger (Readers Circle)
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on August 23, 2004
I gave this four stars because I did read it in one session, despite my being exhausted-- Lowry sure knows how to pace a story and set up a world. Some thoughts:

1) It does help to have read the Giver and Gathering Blue. If you have, some of the offhand references have a lot more power. It's wonderful to meet up with Jonas (here called Leader) and Kira again, and see that their worlds coexisted. It's also increasingly clear that this is definitely our own world in the future, for not only do they share some place names (in Gathering Blue) but there are references to Moby Dick and to Shakespeare. So it's not "like" Earth, it is Earth.

2) A society defined by how inclusive it is of outsiders is a great idea! so it was nice to make that a defining issue, since if you've read The Giver, you know firsthand how it is that people have a place to go.

3) But there are a lot of loopholes. If it is our world, how did it become so full of magic? The forest has a spirit all its own. This is an issue in the previous two books but it seems larger here. And:

a. who is the mysterious Trade Master? What's in this for him? Why is Trade bad, but market day not... do they have a currency they were using?

b. what has happened to the old society of Jonas'-- we know he got books... but I wanted to know more. it seems odd that he thinks about his sister, but not his brother. Unless his brother is referred to somewhere in the book by a True Name and I just missed it-- where the heck is Gabe?

These questions leave you wanting yet one more sequel! and that's all right with me, because I'm a fan of Lowry's-- may she go on writing these!

Raises some interesting philosophical questions, like the previous two, so I imagine it would be a good one to read with kids (I'm an adult).
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on November 3, 2010
With this book Lois Lowry finishes her thought-provoking trilogy of "Giver", "Gathering Blue", and "Messenger." From two previous books the readers have already know something about Leader (from "Giver"), Kira, Matty, and Seer(from "Gathering Blue"). In this last book all of them unite to face the sinister force that takes over the Village and affects the forest.

Matty has been traveling back and forth through the forest to deliver messages. But the forest is changing, taking on a dark side, becoming alive with dark force that has affected some of the villagers who "trade the parts of inner self". It's not the same Village anymore - it no longer welcomes the newcomers. The village people vote to build a wall to keep the newcomers out; the vote prevails, and Leader of the Village has to give in.

Matty is changing as well, his change is new to him - he feels the healing power grow within him, the power he is not completely aware of yet. The boy decides to set on his last quest through the dark forest to bring Kira, the Seer's daughter, before the villagers finish building the wall. His trip trough the hostile forest turns out to be a life-threatening experience for both of them, and the price must be paid...

"Messenger" is a book about the utopia gone wrong. It's full of powerful metaphors that blend in with a great work of fiction.

Julia Shpak
Author of "Power of Plentiful Wisdom". Available on Amazon.
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When "Messenger" was first published there was a bit of an outcry from the children's librarians/educators of the world. As you may know, this book is the third in the Lowry trilogy that began with her often-banned-but-never-forgotten-classic "The Giver". It continued with "Gathering Blue" and ends here with "Messenger". The point of contention comes because depressing suppositions made from the first book now appear to have been wrong all along. In this third book, it appears that the heroes of the first two books are alive and well. Go figure! "Messenger" stands as a book that ties all three in the series together tightly. It almost pulls it off too.

You may remember Matty from "Gathering Blue". Once a dirty gamin with a faithful pup and a dislike of baths, Matty has joined a wonderful community. In a world where deformity and dissent are punishable by death, a town has arisen that takes in and heals all people in need. Matty has lived with his blind guardian there for years and the two have grown comfortable together. Unfortunately, something terrible is happening to the town. People have begun to trade the deepest depths of their souls in exchange for less important objects and qualities. There is a growing movement amongst the townsfolk to no longer bring in any outsiders in need. Greed is devouring the good of the land, and this evil is reflected in the town's nearby forest. Suddenly Matty is sent on a journey of unknown peril to fetch his guardian's true daughter and bring her safely into the town. Worse still, the forest is preparing to destroy them.

Like the previous books in the trilogy, "Messenger" has a straightforward writing style that's appealing to read. This book is part post-apocalyptic, part out-and-out fantasy. I enjoyed how Lowry presented the xenophobic townspeople. Having grown comfortable with their homes they traded their best qualities and suddenly started to forget that they themselves (or their parents) had once been in need of sanctuary. I look at the illegal immigrants that enter America today and see how this complacency and will to detest those in need threatens to destroy our home as well. Lowry's book is easily applied to a variety of different situations. This is just one of them.

In some ways, however, Lowry has lost her storytelling edge. The book has a very simple basic plot, one far less encompassing than that of "The Giver". Still, I found it a worthy companion to the previous two. Perhaps the ending is a bit symbolic for my tastes. Maybe it will depress one or two children here and there. On the whole, however, it's a great read and one that (to my mind) is as applicable to our daily lives as its predecessors ever were. Some will like it quite a lot and some will find it a disappointment. I have found it a slightly flawed wonder and a joy.
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on October 22, 2004
I must say that after reading the reviews for 'Messenger' online while I was placing my order I was a little surprised at the number of people that didn't care for it. I have never read Lois Lowry book that I didn't enjoy. 'The Giver' and 'Gathering Blue' are two of my favorie y.a. novels. After reading 'Messenger' I fell in love with her writing all over again. It takes a great deal of skill to write a book that is on a young adult level, but is so well written, descriptive, and thought provoking to engross adults as well. Soon after finishing the book (which only took about 2 days) I quickly had coworkers reading it, also. I highly recomend this series to any parents of young adult readers, and to the parents as well. I feel that it is a story that all will enjoy. The best part is, the ending still has us wanting to hear more from Lowry. I can only hope that means this trilogy will be transformed into a fourth book.
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on April 5, 2011
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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on March 9, 2005
Messenger by Lois Lowry February 14, 2005

Reviewer: Ashley

Have you ever experienced an alternate reality? Have you ever wondered what a different world would be like? If you have read the Giver, Gathering Blue, Number the Stars or the Silent Boy then you know Lois Lowry. She hooked me into her amazing books and she will hook you in too. Lois Lowry made up whole universes different from ours. She wrote Messenger as a type of sequel to the Giver and Gathering Blue. Lois Lowry made a future beyond our existence. She turns from historical fiction to realistic fiction to science fiction. I am usually not a fan of science fiction but her books just BLEW my mind!!!!!!!!!!!! Lowry sets a whole new goal for young readers.

If you usually aren't into science fiction or unbelievable genres...then you should think twice! In Lowry's book Messenger she creates a Utopia with no exceptions, injustice or conflicts (supposedly). How does greed fall into this village? This community takes in the sick, the old and the wounded. They help these people with NO questions. The villagers take the new in and accustom them to their culture. This village takes the stragglers and actually looks for people in need.

A teenager named Matty is a normal boy in Village. He has normal hopes and dreams like any other boy. Apparently there is something strange about him. One day Matty wandered into the forest. He usually does this, since he was the messenger of Village. Matty notices something strange...about a frog. He says this is a sign of something very important. He says this is secret. Matty had a normal life in village. However, he noticed the changes that were accidently being made. The usual happiness and bustle of the town turned into chants and riots. The usual greeters and joyful people were scornful and melancholy. How did this surprising and sudden change occur? Where did all the happy feelings go? If you read will find out!

Matty is on an expedition. He is posting the message everywhere that Village is closing down. No more new ones. No more helping and accustoming, j ust the greedy and mournful citizens that already live there. More importantly Matty is trying to bring back a girl that is supposed to be in Village. Her father is in Village and he misses her so. He has to hurry because Village is closing in two weeks. It is a long adventure but usually very simple. This time it's different. The Leader of Village says that forest is thickening. It got scarier and the creatures became hateful and barbarous. Matty was very worried that the gentle forest was changing. Matty and the girl scraped their way through. They got an injury every day. Instead of Matty strolling down the paths like he was used to, he limped and punched and barely made it onto the paths. Every time he cut something down, it would grow back up twice as fast. Matty didn't understand the changes. And he never found out why they were happening.

When I finished reading Messenger I had TONS of questions. I realized that having questions is what makes a good ending. This makes the reader think about what will happen after the book ends. What happens to Matty? Why is Forest thickening? What does thickening mean? Did the girl return to her father? Did Village close down forever? What does the frog have to do with the story? All of these questions can be answered by reading the book.
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on January 24, 2014
This is a comment I posted to some of the negative reviews. This book I found really beautiful and inspiring and so I would like to try to respond to some of the detractors in a general review here....

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!
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on November 26, 2014


Yes, Lois Lowry has finally provided us with answers concerning Jonas and Baby Gabriel after the freakish, yet brilliant ending of The Giver. Thus, I will make it known, that Messenger has been my favorite read so far in the quartet; although, the page count is pretty ridiculous. I mean, 187 pages? Really? Okay, I’ll stop being snarky. ;)

While I acknowledge that I gave Gathering Blue a pretty low review, I will say this: The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger eventually connect beautifully. So, yes, please read the quartet in that particular order if you wish to experience the fullness of a dystopian relationship between the stories.

But what makes Messenger stand out between the other books!? The mere fact, that you are reminded that living amongst a community/family/city/nation is both beautiful and ugly, and how self-love, egotism and especially pride can easily corrupt and poison a society in its entirety. And who doesn’t need this friendly reminder? ;)

Sadly, history has taught me that when a society is overthrown by pride and corruption, a martyr is the most effective solution. While martyrdom may not always mean a physical death, (though that is the legitimate definition), martyrdom may be displayed by ones self-sacrifice in taking the blame for something they may, or may not have done.


The Giver
» demonstrates what a controlled community looks like when its leaders make every effort to prevent division, controversy, misunderstandings and painful experiences from ever taking place.

Gathering Blue
» illustrates how a society can be gravely affected by its way of reasoning, and how living in such a society, one forgets how to care and appreciate one another.

» Exposes how a society, whose initial principles were founded on love, friendship, sympathy, compassion, friendliness can easily become corrupted by way of pride, self-love, envy and unforgiveness.

» A wonderful thought-provoking message that challenges the reader to live in a selfless way

» The characters were fairly engaging; I liked how the characters from Gathering Blue and The Giver all connected beautifully, and with their own stories too. My favorite character was the Seer; he reminded me of a Gandalf.

» I was impressed with the book! It was worth the read :)

+ The personal convictions the story delivered; I needed the rude awakening :)

+ Messenger is full-on fantasy with a pinch of dystopia; not to mention, Lowry’s writing is wonderfully descriptive and thought-provoking

+ I received my answers regarding Jonas and I was quite pleased :)

- Though I received a somewhat detailed summary of what took place after Jonas arrived at The Village, I didn’t get enough about baby Gabriel; nothing

- The whole Trade Mart scene was confusing and flawed; I was left with unanswered questions

- The origin stories of both Jonas and Kira lose their sense of realism towards the end of the book; I felt betrayed :(
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VINE VOICEon October 9, 2015
I'm unhappy with this very short, only 169 pages, third book in the quartet of 'The Giver', by Lois Lowry. It's much smaller in size than the others, and is so out of place. Where the other installments promise spiritual uplifting this "Messenger" book teases sameness but not only doesn't deliver on the premise but diminishes it, considerably.
The short story, small book, substantial differences between what had been the unassertive preternatural is now in-your-face magic, suggesting a change in what the original story was leading to. Has the author lost direction? I would skip this installment.
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on August 7, 2012
So I finished Messenger, and I was a bit disappointed - it left me wanting more! I thought, There has GOT to be a 4th book; I don't care if it's a trilogy, there just has to be more than 3 books! I got online and started searching, and Lowry is in fact coming out with a fourth book on October 2nd, I believe. It's called Son. I'm very excited for that book because, although this was a great read - short, easy yet entertaining, and thought provoking - it ended a bit abruptly. I would definitely recommend reading this one, as it ties together the first two books in the series - Giver and Gathering Blue, which actually seemed unrelated until reading this.
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