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The Messenger: A Novel by Stephen Miller

The Messenger: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Stephen Miller

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94950,433 (3.63)2
Title:The Messenger: A Novel
Authors:Stephen Miller
Info:Delacorte Press (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Messenger: A Novel by Stephen Miller



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This is an affecting look at two sides of a terrorist attack. The main character is a young Muslim woman who has promised her life to jihad and volunteers to be sacrificed. Although expecting to die as a suicide bomber, she is instead educated abroad and given an Italian identity, then both immunized against and infected with a weaponized version of smallpox and told how to inflict maximum damage. Her several weeks in the US yield terrifying results for the country but also surprises for herself, as she makes emotional connections with some of the people she meets and potentially infects. The secondary main character is a once-disgraced government scientist who worked on US bacterial warfare preparedness and is brought back as a consultant in the effort to find the party or parties responsible for the attack and blunt the effects of the smallpox.

The terrorist's journey is by far the most interesting part of the plot, as she is increasingly alone in deciding how to proceed, vacillating between despising her victims and worrying about the damage she's doing to potential friends. The scientist's story is much more scattered and difficult to follow. Still, the conclusion, in which the scientist is desperate to capture her alive because of her supply of immunized blood, while she is ready to die, is thoughtful and memorable. There are no easy solutions. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Apr 19, 2016 |
Flawed hero Sam Watterman, an American scientist who had been tossed aside by his own government, is called back into duty as the first hints of organized terror come to light. His path runs parallel to that of Daria, a young woman whose tragic life has been spent entirely in Iraqi refugee camps. In her view, America represents reckless, narcissistic, godless arrogance; she is easily recruited as a terrorist-in-training, imagining the glory of giving her life as a suicide bomber. Her trainers, however, have much more sophisticated weapons in mind: simple viruses that can kill millions. Summary HPL

Similar to SPIRAL in pace and depth of research, but without the token romance. Daria grows within the span of the novel, always the sign of a good read. Bioterrorism is scary enough, but how different agencies, governments etc. react and prioritize is even scarier. I never thought about WHO would get the cure/serum first...now I know it won't be me!

8 out of 10 Recommended to readers of medical/political thrillers. ( )
  julie10reads | Sep 29, 2013 |
First Line: If they were to make a feature film of her life, the script would always be trying to map the source of her flawed personality.

Daria, a survivor from a refugee camp, has lost everything and witnessed things that you and I could only imagine in our worst nightmares. She is a believer. Committing herself to a deadly mission, she is sent to another country where she learns languages and learns how to blend in. When her training is over, she's given a ticket to New York City where she poses as a journalist for an Italian fluff magazine. Daria is an arrow who's determined to strike as many targets as she possibly can.

The only person in the United States who truly seems to understand what Daria represents is Dr. Sam Watterman. After being falsely accused and disgraced in the anthrax inquiries after 9/11, Watterman has been taking care of his dying wife. Now the government that vilified him demands his expertise in locating a threat that has put millions in danger.

These two people's lives are destined to intersect. Their faith will be tested, and each one of them will question what it is to have something worth dying for.

Stephen Miller does something that most people might think impossible: create a character who is a committed terrorist and not only give that character a face, a mind, and a heart but make her-- if not totally sympathetic-- at least understandable and worthy of compassion. Daria has been turned into a "Typhoid Mary," and her travels across the country serve a dual purpose. One, since the reader knows that she carries a deadly contagion, this ratchets up the tension, and as she carries out her instructions, don't be surprised if you change your habits on board airplanes, in restaurants, restrooms... any sort of high traffic public areas. Secondly, these travels bring her in contact with many people, and we are able to see how she reacts to them and how her behavior begins to change.

Daria is such a strong character that Dr. Sam Watterman is almost completely overshadowed by her. Yes, the book does need someone to steer government officials in the right direction and to have them search in the right places and handle the situation in as safe a manner as possible, but Daria is magnetic. I felt the book might've been even better if Daria's hunter had been more "generic". Then Daria's evolving character could have been explored even more deeply. What I would really enjoy seeing is a future book that gives Dr. Sam Watterman a chance to have center stage all to himself. He deserves it.

This is the type of thriller that I enjoy the most: fast-paced, with an all-too-believable plot, and strong, memorable characters. Something tells me I'll be reading more of Stephen Miller's books. ( )
  cathyskye | Jan 8, 2013 |
Crazy horrible plot line. Terrorism is unleashed in the form of anthrax and a "super'pox strain of small pox. Book covers 15 days...couldn't put it down! ( )
  wendytrim | Jan 1, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345528476, Hardcover)

In a world of heightened threat levels, sleeper cells, and unseen enemies, one novel explores the war on terrorism with harrowing suspense . . . and deep humanity.
Daria emerges from a refugee camp a believer. She has lost everything, witnessed the unthinkable, and committed herself to a mission with a deadly conclusion. Indoctrinated, trained, and given a ticket to New York, she blends in, posing as an ambitious journalist—an “arrow” hoping to hit too many targets to count.
Dr. Sam Watterman is recruited too. Falsely accused and disgraced in the anthrax inquiries after 9/11, he is no longer a believer in causes. But the government that ruined his career now demands his expertise to locate a threat putting millions of Americans in peril.
In a country that fights wars on foreign soil but remains terrified of the cataclysm at home, Sam strives toward redemption and Daria desperately seeks both rebellion and enlightenment. Their lives will intersect at a place that will test their faith and make them each question what it means to have something worth dying for.
With a riveting plot that spans sixteen fraught, compelling days, Stephen Miller’s dazzling novel of literary suspense brings the war to a landscape both familiar and vulnerable: the America we call home.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:25 -0400)

"In a world of heightened threat levels, sleeper cells, and unseen enemies, one novel explores the war on terrorism with harrowing suspense ... and deep humanity. Daria emerges from a refugee camp a believer. She has lost everything, witnessed the unthinkable, and committed herself to a mission with a deadly conclusion. Indoctrinated, trained, and given a ticket to New York, she blends in, posing as an ambitious journalist--an "arrow" hoping to hit too many targets to count."--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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