Messenger of Fear (Review)

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

260 pages

Release date: September 23rd, 2014

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My rating:

“Mara,” he said, though I had never told him my name. “This is not a dream.”

“Then what is it, huh?” My voice was ragged . I was sick through and through, sick with what I had just witnessed, sick with what I feared about myself. “What is it and what are you?”

“I am…,” he began, then hesitated, considered, and again showed that slight lessening in the grim lines of his face. “I am the messenger.”

“Messenger? What’s your message, showing me this poor dead girl? I never wanted to see that. I don’t want it in my head. Is that your message? Showing me this?”

“My message?” He seemed almost surprised by the question. “My message? My message is that a price must be paid. A price paid with terror.”

Messenger of Fear By Michael Grant ( the author of the Gone series, and various other books) follows the story of a girl named Mara, who wakes up to find herself lying on the ground surrounded by an eerie fog, with a church being the only nearby building. With no recollection of how she came to this place, she walks into the church to find a single coffin with the body of a girl in it. Suddenly, a boy appears and informs her that he is the Messenger of Fear. Together they go back in time to witness the story of this dead girl, as well as other young people’s tragic stories, while also delivering (what the Messenger believes to be)  justice. In the process, she learns more about the role of the Messenger, and how she came to meet him.

When I first started this book, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it very much. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find it much more interesting and enjoyable than I thought it would be. While it was very short, and the font on my ARC was very large compared to most YA books, I thought it was attention grabbing and unique. Right from the beginning, you find the protagonist placed in a strange and creepy position that she is struggling to deal with and understand. Also, this book contains valuable lessons about bullying, and the possible consequences of treating other people badly. There are some unexpectedly graphic moments in this book, though nothing TOO graphic.

However, in my opinion the story was lacking in action or intensity. Having read most of the Gone series, I know that Grant is talented at writing fast paced, edge-of-your-seat scenes, and this book was lacking those. I often found myself waiting for some sort of heart racing moment, but there were none. Another problem I had was that the characters were very flat, and we hardly know anything about any of them. Their backgrounds remain mostly unknown to the reader. Even having read the entire book, I still don’t know exactly who the Messenger is, where he came from, or how he came to be the Messenger in the first place (although there are some hints). I feel like the book should have been longer in order for us to get a little more information about Mara, the Messenger, and other characters.

While I currently don’t plan on reading the second book of this series, the first book was still pretty good. Grant was most likely aiming for a middle-grade audience, and if that is the case then this book is worth trying. However, as a YA reader, this book fell a little flat for me.