Sunday, October 5, 2014

Messenger of Fear - YA Bingo

Completed on: October 3rd
# of Pages: 260
Bingo Category: A Book Set In Another World
While Ashes to Ashes was definitely a suspense story with horror elements sprinkled in, Michael Grant's Messenger of Fear is a YA horror novel, through and through. After finding out that I rather enjoyed the suspenseful elements of Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian's last book, plus with it being October, I thought I would give horror fiction a real shot. Typically I don't enjoy horror films - not because they scare me but merely because it's not a kind of movie I like to watch - but my first experience with horror fiction has been a positive one.

This book did far, far more than take a number of unpredictable turns so that I never knew what was coming next. With a horror/suspense novel, I suppose that is one of the conventions of this genre. I had heard from my manager when I took this book out on a book loan from my store that Michael Grant was a gruesome writer, meaning that he loved to include gore in his works, and we're talking dismembered babies kind of gore (that is not a spoiler for Messenger of Fear, I promise). And there was one particular moment in the middle of the book where I had to place it down on my grandmother's kitchen table (where I happened to be sitting when I was reading at that time) and push the book as far away from myself as possible, but other than that this book did a very good job of including a very descriptive amount of gore but aside from the one book-shoving incident I wasn't repelled or disturbed enough to stop reading.

The other world that this book takes place in that makes it a fit for this bingo category is what the main character Mara at one point refers to as "dreamland", but to my immediate recollection I don't think it's given an exact title. To describe what she is referring to, as Mara travels around with the Messenger of Fear, the Messenger is able to effortlessly bend time and space so that he and Mara can appear almost anywhere and at any given time. They travel back and forth between the past, present and future, and without stepping through any kind of doorway they are able to appear in somebody else's room or another building entirely. There are other areas outside the mortal realm that these characters appear in as well, such as the field of dead grass with the yellow mist that Mara wakes up in at the very beginning of the book. This ability for the Messenger to bring them to any place and time with minimal effort creates a whole new reality where the laws of physics don't apply, a fact which plagues on Mara's fears and worries multiple times within the novel.

One thing that this novel contained plenty of was an incredible amount of foreshadowing, which for the amount of books that I've read recently that didn't contain any obvious signs of foreshadowing more than made up for it. All of these examples of foreshadowing come from Mara's narrations and show that she has learned a great deal since these early moments in time in which the first book takes place. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her learn from the Messenger, even if my feelings towards her wavered as more became revealed about her, and I look forward to seeing what she will become in later books.

For my first experience with the horror genre, I loved this book. I expected from the synopsis and the first couple chapters that the Messenger was going to be this inhuman epitome of horror, but I was actually quite pleased to gain more and more evidence as the book went on that the Messenger is a very human character, even if the people he's surrounded with that are like him don't show the same signs of weakness. The fact that this book marks the very beginning of a series makes me happy as well; if there are other books then we'll get to learn more about the Messenger's past (I hope) and learn who he was before he became the Messenger of Fear. I'm also curious to see how Mara progresses in the other books. This book is a quick and easy read, partly because of the number of pages and partly because this is definitely a page-flipping genre where you want to speed through it quickly to find out more and more about what's going to happen.

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