Messenger of Fear
By: Michael Grant
My Rating 3/5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy, suspense, mystery
Synopsis: I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.
And then the games began.
The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.
But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out . . .
The first section of this review will be spoiler free
First, Happy Easter everyone! I don’t know about you guys but today is a day I feel justified in eating as much chocolate as I possibly can. I saw this easter GIF and I just couldn’t resist so I hope you all enjoy it.
Now on to the Review:
The synopsis of this book didn’t really give me much to go on so I had very few expectations going in. I hadn’t read the Gone series (Michael Grants other books) so I was also unfamiliar with his writing style. For my this book missed its potential, falling a bit flat. The premise is intriguing enough, Mara being an amnesia stricken girl who comes face to face with the Messenger of Fear who sets her games to eat her, showing her snippets from the life of a girl named Samantha early. The story felt very weighed down by the moral lessons it was trying to impart, and as such, Mara became a very two dimensional character. The Messenger was very mysterious from the get go, and we didn’t really get any depth for that character either, though I suppose that could be chalked up to ‘the mystery’ of the story. There wasn’t actually a lot of suspense or action in the book, and it felt like both Mara and I were passively observing, instead of actively engaging with the plot. Most of the characters felt very stereotypical, each fulfilling one of the ‘high school’ roles you would expect from a teen movie (the popular girl, the nerd, the jock, etc.). One thing that was very cool was that Mara is half Chinese, and since we don’t usually see a lot of Asian YA characters, especially as the main character, I found it very refreshing.
Overall the plot was interesting in the beginning but the mystery and suspense fell flat for me. The book was also relatively short and so none of the characters had sufficient time for character development. If you are already a fan of Grant’s writing this may be a very enjoyable book for you, but personally his writing style was too detached for my liking.
This won’t be too long for this book because there is only really one major spoiler. I will also say that as a warning this book was very graphic about suicide and death in general, not necessarily gory, but in depth enough that it made me uncomfortable. The whole book we are treated to flashbacks of the life of Samantha Early, a girl who is bullied by the popular girl at her school. We learn early on that Samantha committed suicide, and the rest of the story is telling us why. At the end we find out that Mara is the bully who terrorized Samantha. This was slightly surprising but I did see it coming as we neared the end of the book. The fact that Mara had second thought about becoming a Messenger of Fear was also kind of weird, I mean it sounds like a pretty cool job!
Have you read this book, or others from Michael Grant? what were your thoughts?