Messenger by Lois Lowry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A nice thing about the first three books in The Giver Quartet is that they are quite fast to read. A connected sad thing about the second and third book is that it seems the short reading time is caused simply by a lack of story (which wasn't so bad with The Giver).
Nevertheless, I upped the number of stars from two for Gathering Blue to three for Messenger again - because this time the ending was gripping and tragic enough to hold my mind captive after I finished the book. Sadly, I didn't really understand the connection between most of the story and this ending, but from other reviews I'm hoping that the fourth book in the quartet - Son, which is also a lot longer - will resolve some questions.
In general, it was nice to see how Matty evolved from the last book to this, and that Jonas from the first book is indeed healthy and well. Most of the story takes place in the Village where the "broken people" live happily together, accepting and helping one another. It would have been nice - knowing other parts of this world, other communities - to see simply nice life like that. But, to fit in with the other utopia/dystopia novels, things are turned around, people become selfish and tired of helping others, and (fitting also for politics these days) some want to close the borders to newcomers, who are most likely weak and poor and talking in other languages.
Matty sets out to post messages about the coming closure in the Forest, because apparently people travel to Village on purpose by now (I thought it was more a kind of coincidence thing), and to bring Kira to her father. In parallel to the people, the Forest is growing more hostile as well, though, causing them trouble on the trip back. THAT was the interesting part of the story, and could have been much longer to build and release tension.
As you can probably imagine, things have moved from scientific advancements more into the fantasy and magic realm, which I have now come to accept. The community where Jonas came from seems to have been the only place where technological knowledge survived after the Ruin (I assume, since world history is not part of that story line), while all the others stick to simpler ways of life (I wonder how difficult it was for Jonas to get used to that). They also seem to have partly let go of the use of articles, which I found a bit annoying - even if you write Forest with a capital "F", it would still be nice to have people walk through "the Forest" and not simply through "Forest". That was just weird.
I hope the last volume in the quartet will now give an overview of the changes in Jonas' community as well as Kira's original village. At least for the latter we've heard in this book that it changed because of Kira (and probably Thomas?), but we don't really know how or how much. I find that very sad, since Kira did not accompany her father, and instead chose to change the ugly place she was born into, and that must have been quite an effort. Without a description of what she did and what she achieved, that effort seems kind of wasted, though.
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