Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Review: Messenger

MESSENGER: Some plot elements are not explained well, but still good overall

Messenger is about Matty, a boy who delivers messages inside and outside a community simply named as Village. He hopes to earn the title of Messenger someday. A huge opportunity to prove himself arises when the Village is corrupted by internal affairs. Now, he must make a treacherous journey through Forest, to spread the message of Village’s closing from outsiders. His only weapon against the increasingly dangerous surroundings is a mysterious power he discovers within himself.

Like Gathering Blue, this book is a companion to The Giver -- and it definitely has the right to be so. Even though its political significance is far less compared to that of The Giver, it is still able to pack a punch. It successfully triggers emotional reactions when necessary, and the inherent symbolisms regarding the nature of humans make the experience even greater. Aside from that, Messenger is also better than Gathering Blue in all departments. The domestic details and natural world around them seem to be more dynamic compared to its predecessor.

However, Messenger is not perfect.

As much as I like the story, for interweaves the characters from The Giver and Gathering Blue, it seems to be trying too hard to connect the characters. This flaw is nothing major, so I could let it slide. But what I can’t let pass is the fact that some plot elements are left unexplained. How did they get their Gifts? Who was the Trader? And how could he take the Inner-Self of the people? I agree that there should be room left for the readers’ imagination, but when it comes to crucial plot points, it is essential that they be explained well.

There are also certain parts in the story that feel unnecessary, and these parts could be completely eradicated and nothing would change in the story. This disrupts the pacing of the book. But in general, the pacing is good and it keeps the readers driving forward. It just tends to slow down to fill in random details, especially in the early parts of the book. The later parts of the book are very effective and well-paced because these random fillers are mostly absent.

I also like the characterization of Messenger. To be honest, I’m actually glad that Matt from Gathering Blue is the main character in this book. As I mentioned in my review of Gathering Blue, I find him a very interesting character. It’s also fun to see the other characters from its two predecessors. It gives a sense of familiarity, and knowing that the characters from the other books are doing fine is a joy. However, as I mentioned earlier, this interweaving of characters tend to be too cheesy.

            As for the writing style, it is not better than The Giver. But it outshines Gathering Blue. The prose remains simplistic and innocent, but its structure is more solid compared to Gathering Blue. There is also much more harmony in the use of adverbs and descriptions.

Overall, Messenger is a very good read. It is simple yet beautifully written. It is engaging literally up to the last page. The ending is climactic and anticlimactic at the same time. The readers either love it or hate it. Personally, I think it is the best possible ending. It leaves a euphoric sensation inside of me. It gives a sense of hope. The only problem I have with it is the fact that it inherently leaves certain plot elements unresolved.

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