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 .
"The balance between good and evil, between true and false, between pain and pleasure, between love and loss, hatred and indifference. However you name them, these balances are all that keep the world spinning."
16-year old Mara wakes up in a field of dead grass, surrounded by a strange mist, without any memories, and believing that she is dead. Drawn to a church where there is a coffin laid out inside, Mara meets the Messenger of Fear. Messenger is able to differentiate between the good and evil people do. Messenger guides Mara on a journey into the lives of several different people and the situations they face. Mara has to watch as they make bad decisions that affect the people around them. The Messenger gives the guilty parties the choice of either playing the game or facing their ultimate fear. If you win the game, you go free. If you lose, well let's just say that you better hope you don't.
In the beginning of the story, Grant leaves readers questioning what Mara actually did to deserve to be alongside the Messenger of Fear. Was it by her own choice? Is it some sort of penitent? Did she participate in some random event that caused harm to others? Why would anyone in their right mind choose the path of being a Messenger of Fear? After witnessing the brutal ways human beings treat each other, and their surroundings, Mara gets the shock of her life and the truth about why she has been chosen to be an apprenticeship to the Messenger. I'll admit that I was stunned when Grant's reveals Mara's choice. I totally got snookered by Grant, and that rarely happens.
Michael Grant is best known for his Gone series; a series that I have not yet found the time to read. Grant tells a disturbing tale filled with horrible imaginary, and the disturbing choices that humans make on a daily basis. I don't believe that Grant could have written this story any other way without losing the message. He puts Mara through the ringer by showing her the awful things that happen all around her. From a girl who has a bright future but is bullied to the point having no hope. To the boy who makes the wrong choices and refuses to accept responsibility for his actions. To a couple of teenagers who are in love, but suffer from a momentarily lack of good judgment.
Readers can tell themselves that the stuff Grant shows us in this book doesn't really happen all that frequently. And, yet, it actually does. How many times have we ignored pleas for help from teenagers being bullied, or a woman being raped? How many times have teenagers laughed and joined in on the reindeer games just so their reputations don't get tarnished for having compassion for another person? How many times have we ignored terrorists who get away with beheading innocent men, women, and children all in the name of a religion? How many times has a drunk driver gotten away from killing someone by making excuses for his/her actions? The list goes on and on.
I really would love to learn more about Daniel. Is he another messenger, or just someone who keeps track of Messengers? Oriax who answers another calling and believes that Mara has the right to choose her own path. Ariadne is mentioned a few times, and apparently she plays a major role in Messengers life, but who is she, and why is she so important to Messenger?
The Snake (Messenger of Fear #1.5) releases in November. Apparently, Grant has more up his sleeve before moving onto the next installment in the series. If you are a reader who likes thought provoking stories, that are filled with horrific imaginary similair to Steven King's books, then you are in for a treat.
Author - Michael Grant
Title - Messenger of Fear
Series - Messenger of Fear # 1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Released: September 23, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror