Messenger: so imagine you're taking a stroll through the woods and all is fine. I mean, you have a kid with you who is a little whiny at times because he wants candy, but other than that it's fine. You live in a great utopian society where everyone helps each other and no one cares if you're physically disabled. Then all of a sudden: WHAM! The ground opens up under your feet and you fall into a neverending pit of despair. That's what this book did to me.
Ok. I don't want to give away spoilers, so you'll just have to know that you were warned of the pit but you'll have to be ok with me not telling you what the pit is. Messenger follows Gathering Blue in the Giver Quartet, and it follows it very closely timeline-wise. In Messenger we get Mattie's point of view. He's now living in Village with Kira's father, who is known as Seer. (An aside: is it just me, or is it a little cruel/twisted that everyone in the village calls the blind man "Seer"?) Village is very much a stereotypical utopian place: everyone has something that they are good at, and they share that talent with everyone else. It's a barter community, and a little communal. For instance, there's a man known as "Mentor." Mentor teaches the school-age children. Another man, Leader, is sort of like the mayor.
Unfortunately, something is starting to "sicken" in Village. The thing that Mattie focuses on is the fact that his friend Ramon's family received a gaming machine. He wants one too! The machine is very appealing; pull a handle and watch to see if all three pictures in the window on the front will line up. If they all match, the machine gives you a piece of candy. However, Mattie has been unable to go play with the machine for a few days because Ramon and his family have fallen ill. Mattie fails to see the connection between the gaming machine and the illness, but Seer doesn't. Seer also feels the unrest in the society. Many people are calling for the borders to Village to be closed; no new residents/refugees from other societies would be accepted in. Seer is worried that the border will be closed before Kira arrives, and sends Mattie to go get her.
Thus begins a dangerous, long journey through the forest for Mattie....
This was a relatively short audiobook, only 4 CDs, but it packs a PUNCH. It is quite a treatise on how things can go wrong, even in the most idyllic of societies. The book is slightly richer if you've read the previous books, The Giver and Gathering Blue, but Messenger could also stand on it's own.
*I received my copy from my public library.