Messenger by Scott Rhine

Messenger by Scott Rhine
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (169 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When we close our eyes at night, we all see the same ancient place. Exploring Astra is like living a video game. Tomorrow, I’m going goblin-tipping with some of the other wizards. The first rule of being a dream wizard is “no photos.” You don’t want the bad guys finding you where you have no powers. The waking world sucks.

Since Mom went to prison, the Nevada foster system sent me to Minnesota to meet an Uncle Joe I never knew I had. Snow loses its charm after five days. Only music and the dreams make my life bearable.

The weird thing is that elements of the worlds are bleeding into each other. Someone is trying to kill me, and I’m not sure who: the criminal underworld, the elves, or the crazy wizard causing these freaky storms.

Imagine having a lucid dream every time you go to sleep!

Daniel has been through more challenges in his first fourteen years than some people experience in an entire lifetime. Seeing how his personality developed over the course of the story made this character one of the most interesting ones I’ve come across so far this year. The author did a particularly good job at showing the long-lasting effects of certain events in Daniel’s past.

I had trouble keeping track of all of the creatures and other players Daniel meets in Astra. Part of the reason why I struggled is that the cast of characters in this dreamscape was fairly large. While most of the secondary characters were introduced with brief descriptions of their appearances or special powers, some of them only shared their names. It would have been helpful to have a glossary of basic information about these beings so I could spend more time paying attention to what was happening next instead of trying to remember who was who.

Some stories ignite my imagination as soon as I start reading them. This was one of them. At first I was eager for Daniel’s sometimes painful experiences in his waking life to wrap up so he could jump back into everything that was happening when he entered his next REM stage of sleep and was able to once again steal treasures and fight goblins. What impressed me, though, was what happens once he begins to feel secure with his place in both worlds. Within a few chapters I was enjoying both worlds equally.

It took me a while to figure out the most appropriate age recommendation for this book. Daniel is in high school when the action begins, but the plot seems to be written for kids who are a few years younger than him. The subplots that explain how Daniel ended up with his disabilities and why he became a foster child may be too intense for younger or sensitive readers, though, so be cautious about sharing this tale with anyone under the age of 12.

Messenger was quite the adventure. I’d especially recommend it to anyone who is a fan of role playing games or video games.

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