Messenger: The Giver, Book 3 Book Poster Image

Messenger: The Giver, Book 3



Mythic vibe in engaging story of boy with healing powers.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Matty, Kira, Leader, and others use their talent and power to help the community rather than seeking personal gain. Being kind and compassionate makes for a better world; meanness and cruelty make life miserable. The negative effect of the changing Trade Mart on the Village suggests that consumers should be wary of what they're trading away for goods and services.

Positive role models

It's very obvious who's to be admired and who's not. The heroes are those who look out for others, sacrifice themselves for the community, and are compassionate. The hero, Matty, is the most complex, and he struggles a bit with his past. He has learned that the lying and pilfering that helped him survive in the other world are unacceptable and unnecessary in the Village, where the rule has been to accept everyone with love, compassion, and openness. When an ominous evil threatens to destroy the tranquility and order, he discovers and nurtures his healing power and uses it to save others. Kira and Leader do the same. The Seer and other minor characters who are kind and selfless seem wise, whereas those who are making bad trades, turning petty and selfish, seem shortsighted and foolish.


Matty, Kira, and Leader are graphically, gruesomely attacked by plants and trees in Forest. A major character dies.


Gentle flirtation and an innocent kiss between Matty and Jean, a Village girl and friend. 

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Messenger, the third book in Lois Lowry's Giver quartet, links together the first two books, The Giver and Gathering Blue, and leaves the reader reaching for the next. The setting here is known simply as the Village, a safe haven for damaged people and a place of kindness, compassion, and community. But the place is changing for the worse. Villagers are selling their souls for mundane things, and that is unleashing an ominous, evil force that threatens to destroy everything. The mood is turning ugly. There's much to discuss. As in ancient myths, the difference between good and evil is obvious, nature reflects the health (or sickness) of the community, and it takes a self-sacrificing hero to right things again. Matty, Kira, and Leader (Jonas) are graphically attacked by plants and trees in Forest. A major character dies.

What's the story?

In Village, outcasts from other places, often wounded or damaged in some way, have always been welcome. It's a simple place but friendly and kind. It welcomed Matty when he appeared one day out of Forest and over the years changed him, through compassionate nurturing, for the better. Taken in by Seer, an old blind man who can see what others cannot, he has grown from a mischievous imp who lied and stole into an honorable, well-respected youth. He runs errands for Leader and hopes to be called Messenger when he's given his adult name. But Village is changing: A selfish pettiness is taking root, and discord is festering. Villagers are becoming less kind, the Trade Mart is becoming dangerously secretive, and an unhappy faction talks of closing the borders to outsiders. Surrounding Village, the foreboding and animated Forest harbors a malevolence that is making it lethal, and Matty is beginning to discover within himself a gift for healing that frightens him. When Seer sends him to fetch Kira from her village on the other side of Forest before Village is closed, Matty doesn't know if he can bring both of them safely back -- and his fears are well-founded.

Is it any good?


Fans of The Giver series who are looking for resolution in MESSENGER may be disappointed. The story's not finished yet. Though readers now know what happened to main characters from previous books, they may be left with a whole host of other questions, especially about the nature of the world and how it's changing. 

Lowry's writing is, as always, beautifully textured, and her characters are likable. This story's engaging but less complicated or complex than the other two books in the series. Some readers may want more from the ending, and others may wonder about weakly explained magical factors that move the plot along -- the changing Trade Mart and Forest, for example. But most readers will find those very good reasons to read Book 4. Spoiler alert: A child character dies, sacrificing himself to save the world from the amorphous evil that's tying it up in knots. Some children may find this disturbing. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Jonas, Kira, and Matty, the three heroes with special talents. How are they the same? How are they different?  How do you think Lowry decided which gift to give to which character? Why?  


  • How does Messenger compare with other books in the Giver quartet? Do you like the way it pulls them together? What questions are left unresolved? What do you think will happen in Book 4? 

  • Why do you think some Villagers are willing to trade parts of themselves for things such as the Gaming Machine or having good looks? How does that change the Village? What is the role of the Trade Master? Where did he come from?

Book details

Author:Lois Lowry
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:May 28, 2014
Number of pages:169
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Messenger: The Giver, Book 3 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old February 25, 2011

Blend of Genres: Messenger

The perfect blend of mystery and sci-fi, with a pinch of dystopia, and a semi-fantasy filling is Lois Lowry’s very own: Messenger. This novel is just the thing if you need a passionate plot, but not many pages. As for story line, you will get intrigued at some point. Even though the viewpoint is in third person, but is very appealing given that it is based on a kid’s view. Matty has a very bubbly and unique personality; his perspective throughout the story is very interesting. It’s fun to see his old styles back from Gathering Blue, and how he changed as well. Many other characters from the prior trilogies are back. Jonas from The Giver is now “leader”, Kira from Gathering Blue is an important feature at the end, and Christopher (Kira’s blind father) is Seer, Matty’s guardian. This is nice for a little reunion, but also brings a little déjà vu. To its credit, Messenger has some good things to say about selfishness and how it can corrupt an entire society. But it also brought up some weird, unanswered questions. You can only assume, and just go with it. The book's idea is that it takes major sacrifice to change things for good--and yet that touching thought gets a little elaborate in the storytelling. Only your imagination and theories can give you a clue and possibly allow you to continue. In both good and bad ways, Messenger is obviously fiction. It’s nice to look into a realm of greenery as being alive, and with hands and vibrations. On the contrary, too much fiction makes the scenes feel illusory. Some parts seem like a joke, as they have no possibility in reality. It’s best to read the books in order; otherwise, the endings of the first two will be ruined by Messenger. And, this one relies on the prior two books to have a complete story, whereas the first two could stand alone as books. In final words, Messenger would be a great compelling story with many genres all bundled in a cozy amount of pages. It would be perfect “just for fun” read, or something to choose for a book report. If you do read it, I hope you enjoy it(:
Teen, 13 years old Written byP Lacey February 25, 2011

A Great Book

The Messenger, the last book in the Giver series, was a great book. Although I thought that there were some parts that were hard to follow, I really thought it was a great novel. It was, to me, a look into the future to see what would happen to the world when we are gone. I liked how Mrs. Lowry included Jonas from the Giver but his new name was Leader. Out of 10 I would give this book an 8 because since this is a look into the future I don’t believe that people could have these special gifts.
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byFlamingoX April 9, 2008


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?