Remember how I complained about how Gathering Blue was almost a transplantation of The Giver? Apparently there had been a reason — the two communities existed in the same world.
And in The Messenger, they became connected.
Matty, Kira’s young friend from Gathering Blue, is now the messenger between Kira’s dystopian home community and her father’s adopted utopian one.
With Kira’s aid, the dystopia is improving. But simultaneously there is trouble in paradise: with the population increasing and resources disappearing, the once-newcomers and now-residents are petitioning to close borders.
Simultaneously, Matty is noticing a change in his people: after making deals with a mysterious Trademaster, they seem to be losing the best part of their identities.
After reading the novel, I went back and checked its publication date, which was in 2004. Yet the parallels between the once-utopian community and the United States are undeniable. In both cases, old immigrants/refugees are now preventing others from entering “their land;” in both cases, they are building walls.
The Trademaster complication also clearly indicates capitalism. In the pursuit of “gaming machines,” leather jackets and cosmetic surgical improvements, people are selling their innermost identities. The fates of the communities can now be seen as cyclical— while some dystopian rise, others simply fade and fall.
I took a star off mostly because of the ending. The solution was too straightforward for such a complex problem, and Lowry brought the story to its end almost forcibly. I would have preferred it to be open-ended; the sacrifice of a single person solves the problem only in the most idealized world.
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