Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Messenger" by Lois Lowry (audio)

My kids and I enjoyed Lois Lowry's "Gossamer" so thoroughly, I decided to order more of her works from the library. My original intent was to get audio that I could listen to with my kids in the car, and have them assist me in my posts. Of several library orders, I received "Messenger" first. We got through about 10 minutes, and the narrator lulled them into boredom and they switched on a Lord of the Rings movie. So I'm on my own. I also learned, after I'd listened to the entire book, that it is the third in a trilogy, which makes me uncomfortable. I like order! I suppose I will find out when I read the first two of the series whether this was a bad move or not...

Matty, our protagonist, is a teenage orphan who has been adopted by a blind man named "Seer", and on a larger scale, adopted by "Village". Village is a tight, isolated community that takes in the wayward, the injured and the lost souls, and nurtures them to become a contributing citizen.

Many people in Village have gifts. Matty's is the ability to heal with his touch, and is conflicted as to how and when the gift should be used. Seer can see into the past. Leader, Village's President if you will, can see into the future.

Village is guarded by Forest, which seems to decide who can come and go. Most are not allowed to go, lest they be strangled by the vines covering Forest floor. It's all just a bit creepy, like "The Ruins" meets "The Village" meets some cultish sect.

Matty notices that the kind people of Village are starting to change, for the worse. Normally patient and giving, they have become intolerant, rude and selfish. They have voted to build a wall and keep out all newcomers because they no longer want to share their resources. He learns that the people of Village are meeting regularly, and "trading" their souls (with someone I would liken to the devil) for their heart's desire...a gaming machine, furniture, or the love of an unattainable widow next door. At the same time, Forest has become dense, wild and decaying. Matty must travel through Forest to find Seer's daughter, who lives in the next village, and bring her to her father before Village closes its doors on outsiders forever. The question is whether Forest will allow this to happen.

Although this book was not as delightful (I think this is probably the best word to use) as Gossamer, it was very engaging and thought-provoking. I am beginning to see that Lowry's books are full of parables and symbols with endless possibilities. This story could be about staying true to ourselves, about resisting materialism, about realizing our inner potential, or even about Jesus. Lowry's stories truly provide wonderful talking points for the Young Adult crowd, and are still entertaining for us old folks. As I said earlier, the narrator had a voice that varied little from character to character and almost lulled you into a nap, which I was able to get past because of the engaging story. But he lost my kids, which is unfortunate because I think they would have loved the story as much as I. I may need to have them try the book version and see how that goes. My next Lois Lowry selection will be The Giver, both in book and audio form. Stay tuned!


Beth F said...

Bummer that it was the third in a series. I hate reading books out of order. So, if I read this I'll be starting with book 1!

I have the YA challenge to get to, so I'm on the lookout for good books.

Melody said...

Yep, I hate reading out of order too especially if they're part of a trilogy. I don't mind reading a book in which the characters are linked to other books as long as they can be read standalone, but to have books connected with one another, no way!

I'm definitely looking out for more Lowry's books, especially I enjoyed Gossamer so much! I heard The Giver is a great read, and I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is getting ready to start The Giver - I think it's the first in the trilogy. I'll let you know what she thinks. :)

Unknown said...

Perhaps I should get hold of a copy, so I can lull my children to sleep in the car quicker!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Beth - yes, if I'd have known...at any rate, I am hoping the books are only loosly linked. I wasn't lost in the story fortunately.

Melody - we have both the audio and the book of the Giver, and will be a family project (assuming the audio isn't a bore again!). I'm looking forward to it!

Carrie - I think The Giver is one of the more popular of Lowry's books, so I have high hopes. I look forward to your daughter's opinion!

Jackie - haha! There could be a second market for this audio! I remember the days of kids that wouldn't sleep!

Bellezza said...

Lois Lowry is such a good author. I'm not as crazy about The Giver as almost everyone I know is, but I did love Number The Stars. With a passion. This one looks good, too. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Bellezza - Number the stars is definitely on my list after that recommendation! I suppose I will read all her works. She is wonderful!

The Bumbles said...

I think you finally just gave me a reason to reconider audio books - listening with others. Although I can see myself distracted by the pull of Viggo, an audio book on a long car ride together would be just the thing to draw Andy into my book world.

P.S. Did you know that Viggo is 51? I had no idea I was lusting after someone over 50.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Molly - that really is an excellent idea. My husband likes to read but doesn't find the time, so when we do road trips, he gets a dose. He really enjoys them! With the kids, we spend about 40 minutes (minimum) a day in the car going to school and sports, so this works out well for us.

Yes, and I am blown away that Viggo looks like he does at 51. With that in mind, I can understand how younger woman fall for older men. I wouldn't turn him away!