Messenger, by Lois Lowery, is about a boy named Matty and is set in futuristic times. Matty had come to Village six years ago after fleeing a life of hardship and poverty. In his old village he had a
friend with a twisted leg named Kira. After Kira’s mother had passed away Matty had gone into Forest to find her a gift so she would like him better and that was when he came upon Village. The people there were kind to him and had all come from villages like his own and were all “broken” as he liked to put it. He met a blind man there who the people called Seer and after talking to him discovered that he was his friend Kira’s father who was said to be dead. After meeting her father Kira had promised to someday come to Village and live there when the time was right, but first she had things to accomplish. Matty returned to Village with Seer to live with him.
Matty was a different person than he had been then. He had been attending school where his teacher, Mentor, who was a sweet old man with a birthmark on his face and a lovely daughter named Jean, had tamed him and taught him to speak correctly and read. Matty decided that when the time came for him to receive his true name he wanted to be called the Messenger. He took messages to other villages and around his own Village often and even took messages to his old village. Forest liked him which was fortunate because he spent most of his time in it. Many people were destroyed by Forest, but the trees on the paths almost seemed to spread and usher him through.
One day Matty discovered a frog that was almost dead and when he reached down to pick it up a power surged through his hands. It was a feeling he had never before felt To his surprise when he put the frog back down its almost amputated leg was repaired. Matty was frightened and although secrets had been a part of his past he didn’t want anyone to know yet. Matty knew that Leader had a gift. Leader was a young man with blue eyes who had founded Village and he could see beyond. Could Matty have a gift as well?
There was a change in Village that Matty had been noticing. Mentor’s birthmark was beginning to fade and he seemed to have a different attitude. He had created a petition to close Village Matty began to notice that other people were changing too. Seer noticed a difference too. Trade Mart used to be a place where people went to trade things but it seemed more important for some reason so Matty decided to go see what was happening. People were trading themselves for other things and this alarmed him. Mentor traded something for a woman and he began to stand straighter and care less about people.
Matty told Leader about this and after it had been decided that Village would close to newcomming people Matty knew that he had three weeks to go retrieve Seer’s daughter or she would never be able to come live there. Leader looked beyond into Forest and told Matty it was dangerous and Forest was thickening so Matty must hurry Matty left with the puppy he had healed named Frolic to get Kira and Forest did seem different. He seemed to lose the paths he knew so well and couldn’t catch fish as easily. Kira had a gift too. She could thread pictures of the future although they only lasted a few seconds. Leader knew this as well and told Matty to save his gift. A wall was beginning to go up around Village.
When he got to Kira she knew already it was time to go and what was happening. They left the next morning. Forest was so thick now Matty had a hard time finding the path. Poison dripped from the vines and burned Matty’s arms terribly and branches lashed out and cut Kira’s legs and feet. Leader looked beyond and saw Forest preparing to destroy them and he knew he must help. By the time Leader entered Forest Matty and Kira were lost in the middle of Forest and there was a horrible stench, no food, and snakes. Leader was coming to help them but the bugs were stinging him and the vines had grasped his foot and began to hold min down. He reached out in his mind to Kira who felt his presence but was too weak to go on. Leader told her to tell Matty that they needed his gift now. Matty was so weak he didn’t think he could do it but he placed his hands on the ground and power surged through them. Matty then saw himself above the trees floating. He saw things go back to the way they had been. Leader found Kira weeping over Matty’s body and she told Leader that Matty had been hoping to get his name after this trip. Leader picked up the boy’s body and said that he would be remembered as Healer.
Lowery did a great job on this book. It is very interesting and unusual. Matty sacrifices himself for the world almost as Jesus did. Terms are used differently in the story and an example is the way the characters refer to the forest as “Forest” and give it characteristics of a living creature. This makes the story different and intriguing. I would recommend this book to anyone with an imagination and an eye for adventure.