Friday, August 26, 2016

#Saturday Review - The Tattooed Heart by Michael Grant (Young Adult, Horror) @MichaelGrantBks @KatherineTegen

Series: Messenger of Fear # 2
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Horror

Mara has already witnessed more evil as the Messenger’s apprentice than most people do in their lifetime, but the games continue.
The Messenger leads Mara to the funeral of a Muslim boy named Aimal, who died standing up for his people, and then to an abandoned store, where they discover Graciella, a girl battling addiction. The all-knowing Messenger recognizes that they are victims of heinous crimes. Mara and Messenger will find the wicked—those who act out of selfishness and greed, and others who become violent because of prejudice and hate.
But Mara and Messenger pay a price too. For every person who is offered justice, they will wear a tattoo that symbolizes the heart of the crime. And as Mara delves deeper into her harsh reality, she is suprirsed to realize that part of her is drawn to the sometimes compassionate Messenger. In spite of all the terror she and Messenger inflict, Mara will discover that caring in this world is the hardest part of all.
The second book in New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant’s Messenger of Fear series, The Tattooed Heart combines fantasy with real-world horror stories to create a satisfying conclusion. 

“If you prick a finger with a poisoned thorn, say not that you are innocent when the heart dies.”

The Tattooed Heart is the second and apparent final installment in Michael Grant's Messenger of Fear series. The Tattooed Heart 
continues the story of 16-year old Mara, who has been sentenced to be the apprentice to the Messenger of Fear after surviving her own judgment. Mara was a bad person when she was alive. She had friends and acolytes, but that wasn't enough for her. She ended up driving a fellow student to commit suicide. An act she is still paying for. Mara is now responsible for dolling out justice and punishment to others who have been accused of inhuman acts against others.

She answers the call of Ishtil, Goddess of wickedness and Justice. Mara dreams of loss and alienation. Her life really is a nightmare and not a dream that she can wake up from. She uses dreams to escape her currently reality, especially when she is forced to watch as those who are punished for their actions, are force to play for their very souls. In this reality, the wicked are forced into playing a game where winning is the only real options. If you fail to play the game, you have to face an even more harsher reality in the Shoals. Let's call the Shoals Hell for all intentions of this book. With each judgment, Mara ends up being tattooed reminding her of the horrors she was forced to judge.

"The balance between good and evil, true and false, pain and pleasure, low and loss, hatred and indifference. However you name them, these balances are all that keep the world spinning."

Mara's mentor, who she has feelings for, continues to look for his lost love Ariadne. Messenger has been obsessed in finding her, but he also has to show Mara the ropes so that she can one day take his place. The Tattooed Heart takes Mara and the Messenger from the Middle East, where a young boy named Aimal runs towards terrorists who aim to kill young girls attending school and pays the ultimate price for his heroism. To a school in Iowa where racism drives the actions of two boys that cause a ripple affect elsewhere. But, it also includes the story of a girl name Graciella Jayne who's entire life is such a sad story, that I couldn't help but feel emotionally drained by how society treats those who have been kicked in the face time and time again.

Michael Grant has apparently stated that this is the final book in the series. I am not sure if that is a good thing, or a bad thing since there is definitely room for more story. Mara definitely grows in this book. She becomes more of character who doesn't allow anyone to push her around. She makes choices, and decisions, and travels to the Shoals where she has an encounter with Oriax, who works for Malech and knows what really happened to Ariadne. Oriax has been a thorn in Mara's side hoping to sway her into switching sides. But, Mara has been set on a different path. I think this ending is bitter sweet in several ways. We see Mara's new future, while also seeing that she has lost the only person who has taken the chance to set her on the right path. We see that she has found compassion in a way that I believe was the right and only thing she could have done.

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