The book follows a girl named Mara, who wakes up in a field surrounded by a strange yellow mist, and meets the Messenger of Fear - who comes after people when they're bad. That's as much as a synopsis as I'm going to give you.
The first thing I noticed about this book was that it was deceptively short. There were about 310 pages, but had the spacing and font size been "normal", I think it would have been about half the size. This could also partly be due to the fact that there was something happening all the time and there was barely a moment to rest.
I really enjoyed the writing in this book, though there were a few moments where Mara, the narrator, talked directly to the reader or referenced finding something out later, which I didn't like. It seemed a little out of place and unnecessary. I suppose it could have been used in an attempt to create a creepy atmosphere, but that didn't work for me.
Speaking of creepy, I really didn't find Messenger of Fear to be scary. I had no qualms about reading it at night whilst home alone (which is really saying something, considering I'm the biggest scaredy-cat in existence). However, it was really gory at times, so if you are bothered by that I wouldn't recommend this. Though it totally grossed me out (highlight for spoilers[especially the part about Derek's eyes boiling in their sockets *shivers*]), I thought it suited the story and was really what makes this a horror book (apart from the concept of someone coming after you if you do something wrong - that's pretty horrifying, I guess). Oh, and there was one particular character, The Game Master, that was terrifying.
My biggest issue with this book was that though I liked finding out small parts of the mystery slowly through the course of the story, I found that way too much was left unexplained [for example, the yellow mist itself, Oriax, Daniel, the reason for the people in the Game Master's body thing, even the Messenger's backstory] and there was a massive information dump right at the end - basically a whole new aspect to the plot was introduced - which really didn't fit into the tone of the novel, in my opinion. The reason this didn't bring down my rating more is that this book is meant to be part of a series. I'm not sure if it's going to follow the same characters, or be set in the same time, but I desperately hope that it at least partially ties up these loose ends and develops more of this new plot aspect.
Here's another thing that I didn't feel great about (including spoilers that will ruin the story for you):
[The bullying of Samantha by "Kayla" didn't sit right with me. This is my question: If Mara really did do all the things that Kayla did, and had the same reasoning (jealousy, tough time at home, wanting to entertain her friends), would she really feel guilty enough after Samantha's suicide to want to atone for it? All her reasons for the bullying were so shallow (except for her feeling that Samantha was taking away the one thing that Mara was good at - that was at least more personal*), and she knew that she was driving Samantha to a point of no return. So why, after achieving this goal, so to speak, does she want to make up for it? It didn't make sense to me. I also should mention that I suspected that Mara was Kayla from very early on - there were some very obvious clues, like Mara's connection to words and the familiarity of Kayla's room.
*I am definitely not trying to say that this is a good reason to bully someone, just to be clear.]
The thing I was most surprised about was the overall message and feeling I got from the story. Rather than being horrified at the events, I was left feeling hopeful. I felt like the book was a message of hope; hope that you can overcome your wrongdoings and achieve redemption, and then be able to move on and live a long and happy life. It also touched on the theme of people's problems explaining their actions but not excusing them, which I liked.
So overall, I have very mixed feelings about this novel, but I did enjoy it. Sorry that there are so many parts I've had to hide in this review but I couldn't discuss it without mentioning them.
Have you read any of Michael Grant's books? Should I read the Gone series? If you've read Messenger of Fear, what did you think of it? I'm especially interested to hear about other's thoughts on the massive chunk that I have hidden.
Thanks for reading!