The New York Times
Some critics objected to the unresolved endings of the first two books; others applauded. While Messenger may tie the three stories together just a little too neatly, it is still far from a sweet resolution. Up to the last anguished page, Lois Lowry shows how hard it is to build community. I suspect that many young readers will want to return to all three stories.Hazel Rochman
It sounds abstract and portentous, but Lowry's mastery of dramatic pacing, eye for homey detail and sly sense of humor combine to make this allegorical world seem far more real than the cardboard-cutout malls and schools of many a "realistic" YA novel.
The Washington Post
Lowry masterfully presents another thought-provoking, haunting tale in this third novel, a companion to The Giver and Gathering Blue. Matty, the scruffy thief from Gathering Blue, lives with the blind man called Seer and helps him around the house. Now an educated young adult, Matty delivers messages for Leader, the head of Village, traversing the sometimes inhospitable Forest. On one such mission, he discovers that he has the power to heal. Meanwhile, sinister attitudes begin to infiltrate his formerly tolerant Village-most notably in Mentor, the man who "tamed" Matty-and to threaten the principles on which it was founded. While Lowry intertwines compelling threads from past novels (readers discover what happened to Jonas, and that Kira also has a connection to Village), this story more than stands on its own. The author revisits some of the themes of her previous novels (the cost of striving for physical perfection; the benefits of inclusion), and takes them to another level. Because she continues to work in allegorical terms, her lessons about the effects of consumerism on society and the importance of knowing one's history never feel teacherly; instead, she allows readers to come to their own conclusions. And Matty himself, once a taker, in many ways brings the series full circle, becoming the Village citizen who offers the greatest gift. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Life is good for Matty and the Seer, the blind man with whom he lives in their open and friendly community. However, changes begin to take place. People become obsessed with trading for objects, and some have traded their "deepest selves." When some of the people vote to close the village to keep strangers out, Leader sends Matty to other villages so they will know what is happening. Matty also goes to the Seer's village to bring his daughter back. On the return trip however, the forest has turned angry and most foul. Matty must use every ounce of his being to bring the forest and life in the village back to normal. Lowry is a marvelous storyteller who grabs hold of the reader's imagination as strongly as the vines and branches of her terrible forest. Lowry's themes of the necessity of caring for one another, the importance of being open and honest, the significance of the relationship between humans and our natural surroundings are all worthy of discussion. However, for this reader there were some loose ends that were not satisfactorily resolved. The issue of the trading was leftperhaps intentionallyrather nebulous. The reader never learns the details of who is making the trades and what the people are trading in return. In healing the forest, Matty was able to heal all that was wrong with the people of the villagetheir greed as well as illness. It seems that no one was required to take responsibility for his or her own actions. This is a companion novel to The Giver and Gathering Blue, but it can be read on its own. 2004, Walter Lorraine Books/ Houghton Mifflin, Ages 10 to 14.
Lowry returns to the alternate universe (or post-apocalyptic world) of The Giver and Gathering Blue for this parable about a utopian village at the edge of a forest. Young Matty (from Gathering Blue) lives there with a blind man named Seer, doing errands for Leader (who is clearly meant to be a grown-up Jonas, the hero of The Giver) and others in the community. Matty has a special ability to make his way through the dangerous forest, and he discovers that he has another gift as well: the ability to heal. He gradually becomes aware that his idyllic, unselfish community is changing, as people start to wish for more than what they have and are even willing to trade their souls for what they want. (The scene depicting the village's ominous Trade Mart evokes the mood of "The Lottery.") Some villagers demand that the borders of the village be closed to strangers, and before a wall is erected Seer sends Matty as a messenger on one last errand. He is to find Seer's daughter, Kira (from Gathering Blue), who lives in another village, and return with her through the increasingly menacing forest. In the end, in Christ-like fashion, Matty must sacrifice himself to heal his community. Lowry's many fans will welcome this return to the fascinating world she has created, and to the provocative issues she raises. Once again, a young hero who must save society is featured, and Lowry's tale will make readers ponder the nature of humankind, the value of caring and sacrifice, and the kind of civilization to which we might aspire. Suspense builds gradually but inexorably to the desperate, tragic journey through the malevolent Forest, and readers will be left with much to thinkabout. KLIATT Codes: JS*Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Houghton Mifflin, 176p., Ages 12 to 18.
Fans of Lowry's Newbery-winning The Giver (Houghton Mifflin, 1993/VOYA August 1993) and its companion book, Gathering Blue (2000/VOYA October 2000), will find themselves brought back to the same world that bridges the two previous volumes by connecting characters and events, answering some questions but asking even more. Matty is the main character, a boy on the threshold of adulthood, who lives in Village with Seer, the blind man who has taken him in and raised him as his own. Matty is a messenger who travels throughout Village and occasionally through Forest, taking messages to the communities beyond. Village has been a welcoming place of refuge for others like Matty who have fled their homes to escape mistreatment and even death; however, something is different. People in Village are changing, and a group of townspeople have approached Leader demanding to close off Village to refugees. Through democratic vote, the will of the people prevails. Matty must warn the other communities that Village will soon be off-limits, and he must travel through Forest, which is thickening and growing more sinister day by day. His most important task is to bring Seer's daughter, Kira, back with him on his return journey, which becomes more ominous and more dangerous with every step. Matty's journey is one of self-discovery, and Lowry's simple prose belies complex issues of human nature woven throughout the storyfaith, desire, and accepting the consequences of one's choices. As in The Giver, by the end of this book readers will want the story to continue to answer the questions that Lowry poses. VOYA Codes 4Q 5P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) wasdying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Walter Lorraine Books/Houghton Mifflin, 176p. Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Matty, who has lived in Village with the blind Seer since running away from an abusive childhood, 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. 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. The gifted young people, introduced in The Giver (1993) and Gathering Blue (2000, both Houghton), are brought together in a gripping final scene, and the shocking conclusion without benefit of denouement is bound to spark much discussion and debate.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Leader came to Village as a young boy on a red sled, the remains of which are in the Museum, a symbol of courage and hope to all of the villagers who came from elsewhere, fleeing poverty and cruelty. But the utopian community is in danger and young Matty must make a journey to save his friend Kira and bring her to Village before walls are erected against outsiders. Told in simple, evocative prose, this companion to The Giver (1993) and Gathering Blue (2000) can stand on its own as a powerful tale of great beauty. Though it does offer connections to its predecessors, it is not a mere postscript to them, but something new and grand: a completely enchanting, haunting story about the dark corruption of power and good people using their gifts as weapons against it. Readers will be absorbed in thought and wonder long after all of the pages are turned. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher
"Lowry masterfully presents another thought-provoking, haunting tale in this third novel, a companion to The Giver and Gathering Blue." Publishers Weekly, Starred
"Lowry moves far beyond message, writing with a beautiful simplicity rooted in political fable, in warm domestic detail, and in a wild natural world, just on the edge of realism." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"Told in simple, evocative prose, this companion to The Giver (1993) and Gathering Blue (2000) can stand on its own as a powerful tale of great beauty." Kirkus Reviews, Starred