My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars :star :star :star 1/2
Source: eARC via Katherine Tegen | Edelweiss
Publication Date: September 23rd, 2014
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.
One of the genres I rarely read are thrillers; but a thriller with a supernatural element? Messenger of Fear had me interested because of the unusual braid of genres and the really cool cover (I love that color blue). I guess it doesn’t take much for me to step out of my comfort zone. Add a little of a genre I tend to love and a color-pleasing cover and I’ll try you out! But seriously though, I’m so glad I did.
“Yes, Mara,” he said with a sense of finality, as though now we could begin to understand each other, though I yet understood nothing. “I am the messenger. The Messenger of Fear.” It would be a long time before I came to know him by any other name. -Loc 229
Michael Grant is a pretty well-known author when it comes to thrillers and such in young adult. I’ve never read any of his books before but did recognize the name because I see it around on Goodreads and in bookstores and stuff. That sort of thing really doesn’t influence whether I request/download the eARC, but after reading this book I can understand why he’s a popular author.
Messenger of Fear started off really good and I remember thinking, “this is an amazing premise for a book. If it delivers, it will be fantastic.” Although it wavered at times, the ending was so strong I definitely feel it fulfilled it’s ambitious premise of a supernatural thriller that kept me guessing until the end.
What was I guessing about? So here’s the thing, let me tell you a little bit about the book (don’t worry—no spoilers!) We open with Mara waking up in a coffin. Of course a pleathora of questions are spued forth by her, is she dead? Is she alive? What happened? Why can’t she remember anything? While we don’t get clear cut answers, she does figure a few things out pretty quickly. She meets “the Messenger.” He’s a mysteriously handsome guy who is the only one that can see and talk to her. Slowly she is shown the life, death, and in between of a teenage girl named Samantha Early. She kills herself, but Mara needs to learn (slowly) why and she is shown all the details from both Samantha Early’s side AND the other people involved who may have encouraged the suicide.
Mara learns she is the protégé of the Messenger of Fear. She will take his place when the time comes. This is a position she clearly doesn’t want; but she quickly learns it’s a position she signed up for. The mysterious plot thickens. ;)
“It is a terrible thing to watch evil unfolding. It’s a terrible thing to see doom coming to an innocent girl.” –Loc 925
I really liked how the issues of right and wrong, and the various degrees of evil and intent were explored in this book. It’s great for a philosophy buff like me, without being annoying or overwhelming. It just kind of makes you think. What makes someone evil, or do something evil? Can that person, or persons ever be redeemed? What should happen to them? Those are the things that the Messenger of Fear ultimately decides, by having access to the persons every memory and deepest, darkest fear.
“Evil comes when those who know better, who have seen the pain they cause, nevertheless cause more pain.” –Loc 1926
Although I felt a wide range of emotions toward Mara, I appreciated the fact that there wasn’t a developing romance between her and Messenger. In the beginning I was a bit afraid that was going to happen, so when it didn’t I was extremely happy. The novel really didn’t need a sappy romance and I felt it was perfect without it. There was a crush, and love of another couple, along with some lust thrown in with an enigma known as Oriax. I’ll leave the details for you to discover when you read this book.
I recommend Messenger of Fear to lovers of novels that keep you guessing until the end. It’s less of an action-packed thriller and more of a supernatural thriller that is extremely well written.