Apr 19, 2016

The Messengers: Discovered

Review by Anna Ilona Mussmann

The world needs well-crafted stories written from a Christian perspective, so it is exciting to see CPH venture into the world of dystopian middle grade fiction.

Lisa M. Clark’s The Messengers: Discovered (to be released May 17) follows Simon, a teenager growing up in a futuristic, repressive society where Bibles and other unauthorized reading material have long been banned. Restless and discontent, Simon flirts with danger by engaging in petty misdeeds. Then, one day, he realizes that his quiet father is deeply involved with something that does not officially exist: the Christian church.

Like the church of ancient times, believers have gone underground. Their messengers risk capture as they attempt to find, reassemble, and share the Scriptures from scraps and pages that have survived the government’s purge. As Simon enters the messengers’ world, he also learns the story of his mother’s death and realizes that he, too, has a role to play in a society that is filled with darkness.

I love the ideas around which this novel is built. The concept feels fresh enough to be intriguing but also echoes the real-world challenges faced by many Christians in actual times and places. The very best scenes are those in which Simon hears Scripture or the liturgy of the church. Genuinely moving and beautifully resonant, these passages demonstrate the power of God’s Word. How many middle grade or young adult novels are likely to bring a reader to tears with the words of the Creed?

The writing is occasionally uneven. I would have liked a little more world-building and a little more showing vs. telling. There were also a number of scenes that seemed to hint loudly at future complications that never happened--as, for instance, when our hero leaves dangerous evidence lying around but nobody ever finds it. In addition, I have to admit that I felt as though every time new Christian characters were introduced, they invariably smiled warmly, twinkled mischievously, or chuckled heartily, just so we would know they were nice. After a while, this became irritating; but perhaps that is because I’m an adult reader instead of the target audience.

Flaws aside, I enjoyed this story, and I applaud Ms. Clark for tackling the challenge of writing it. I look forward to handing it to the young readers I know and to hearing their response to Simon’s story. May there be more like it!


Note: I received a free review copy of this book. All opinions in this review are my own.


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After graduating from Concordia Wisconsin, Anna taught in Lutheran schools for several years and became so enthusiastic about Classical Education that she will talk about it to whomever will listen. She is a big fan of Jane Austen, dark chocolate, and the Oxford comma. Anna and her husband live in Pennsylvania with their two small children. Her work can also be found in The Federalist.

3 comments:

  1. I am truly relieved to hear that Lutheranism will survive long enough to be involved in the dystopic future. Very excited about this book!

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  2. I'm really encouraged by the way Lutheran publishing houses are starting to branch out into fiction. So much Christian fiction is riddled with false theology, mainly of the decision-based-faith sort, but other things as well, and it has long frustrated me that Lutherans haven't been writing and publishing good, theologically sound fiction. I am optimistic that this is changing.

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