Okay. I loved The Giver. I loved Gathering Blue. I loved most of Messenger. But I kind of feel like Lois Lowry woke up one morning and thought, “What if I connected those other two books and put them in the same universe? And while I’m at it, the same neighborhood?”

Messenger is about a kid named Matt who grew up with Kira, from Gathering Blue. He finds a new village to live in, and lives with Kira’s father. But then really weird things start happening, and people get selfish and start acting like they’re losing touch with what really matters. And they want to bar outsiders from the village – which is the whole reason the village started in the first place. It was a haven for refugees. Anyway. Matt has the job of sending messages through the forest, because apparently the forest is a living thing and sometimes attacks people it doesn’t like.

That’s weird – but it’s well-written, and I was okay with it. To be honest, I expected some more rational explanation for it, but I figured it would be forthcoming.

It’s not, though. I mean, the entire book is about the fear of the forest, and at the end of the book (spoilers, people), there’s maybe a paragraph where Lowry explains that the problem with the forest was a thick knot of fear and selfishness. Like, the people made the forest sick? Or the forest made the people sick? Or was there just some cloud of evil hanging out, or what? I feel like there are some pretty deep Christian parallels I can draw here, but only after reading Son, the final book in the series. And even then, the explanation still doesn’t hold up as well as I’d expect.

I think my problem is that The Giver made complete sense, with only a few actual “magical” elements to it – like the transmission of memories. Everything else was just futuristic. They found a way to turn off the weather. And colors. And teenage hormones. There are assigned birthmothers, who are insemenated artificially. The food comes from local farms and fish hatcheries. But then Lowry throws a few characters from that universe into this new book, where the trees are literally attacking people.

I like the writing. But I don’t buy it. ♦


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