While I was thrilled to see "The Son" by Lois Lowry, the final book in the "Giver" series available through Vine, I also felt guilty, having rated "The Messenger" more harshly than it perhaps deserved, having believed all along that the series was a trilogy, not a quartet. It didn't really explain what happened to Gabe, whose fate was left ambiguous in the first book. So that was one question I thought would remain a mystery.
"The Son" starts with the birth of a "Product" to a fourteen-year-old girl named Claire, who has been chosen as Birthmother in the same community where Jonas originally lived. Something goes drastically wrong, and although the child survives, Claire is left sterile, and relegated to a dull job at the Fish Hatchery. She's also left in the dark as to what has happened, having been blindfolded throughout the procedure. None of her fellow community members can offer any enlightenment and do not share Claire's maternal yearnings (or any type of passion). (Fans of "The Giver" will easily figure out why Claire is different.) As a result, she is somewhat alienated but very determined to see her son again.
From the hatchery, Claire gets a chance to view the incoming ships and a taste of what a different community might be like. She also begins volunteering at the center where the "newchildren" are and becomes friendly with Jonas' father, who works as a nurturer there. As she figures out that Gabe (or the fractious young "Number Thirty-Six") is indeed her son, the series reader is on familiar territory and knows ahead of time what's going to happen. Eventually, Claire sets off in search of Gabe, which brings her to a community which tolerates far more individuality in its members, although the people there are puzzled at the gaps in her knowledge of things such as colors and music. Although Claire is accepted there and finds a mentor, she decides to move on. Her quest for her son will lead her into danger, both physical and supernatural. Her story then overlaps with Jonas', Kira's and Gabe's. Is there a happy ending? I won't spoiler it, but will say that once done, you have more satisfying answers than you did at the end of "The Messenger."
"The Son's" main theme is choice; as in "Harry Potter," the characters are forced to decide between doing what is right and what is easy. What is sacrificed may wind up causing unexpected pain, and attempts to put things back the way they were may not work. As any fan of fairy tales knows, being granted your heart's desire is often the path to misery, regardless of how it appears beforehand. Is a world whose inhabitants are basically content really worth it, or does it wind up creating people who feel like outcasts anyway? What then are the options for those who don't, or can't fit in? How do you develop a gift if no one in your community can conceive of what you're capable of? The "Giver" series goes far in ably exploring these questions and prompting the reader to do so, as well.
Like so many others, I loved "The Giver". I finished reading it and started right out reading it again, something I have done with almost no other book in my life. I felt like it was a near perfect book. I eagerly read "Gathering Blue" and "Messenger" and was rather disappointed with both of them. They contained good enough reading, but felt far more ordinary than The Giver---like books that had been written before about fairly primitive societies with mild supernatural elements. They didn't have the stunning oddness of the society in The Giver. I had high hopes that Son would loop back to where it all started and revisit that world.
"Son" does indeed start in the same society as "The Giver", but it is set during the same time period as the first book, and in a lot of ways, simply retells that story from a different perspective. The story then moves to a new society, a seaside world set at the edge of a cliff seperating it from the rest of the world, and then to the world of "Messenger". The story follows Claire, a birthmother from the Giver society, on a quest. I won't give away any plot points, but the book works to tie everything up, and in a lot of ways, it does. However, in the ways I truly wanted, it didn't. We really have no more idea than when we started as to the whys of it all. How did this world come to be, split in small odd societies? How did the strange world of The Giver get planned and started? Why is technology so different in each world? Most of all, I would just like to find out more about Jonas and Claire's original home, the planned, sterile world of The Giver.
The writing is skilled here, and the emotions portrayed are dramatic. There is more than I would like of long detailed descriptions of physical journeys, and the somewhat misplaced Trademaster from Messanger, a sort of jarring supernatural element, plays much more of a role than I'd like, but overall, the book is well plotted and well paced. It just feels a small amount like a cop-out to me. Or more accurately, like yet another attempt to perfect an already near perfect literary achievement, "The Giver". Some books don't need sequels, although you might want one. I did, but now I realize perhaps I should have left well enough alone, and maybe Lois Lowry should have too.
on October 3, 2012
Before I begin, allow me to say that I read an advance copy, so there may be changes to what this final book became. No matter the changes, it is clear the direction that this book was going. And it is a disappointing end to this series, one whose quality declined with each successive book.
The Giver itself, of course, is wonderful. It is everything that young adult fiction should be, from start to finish. Even now, with technology being what it is, the book holds up perfectly well and will probably hold up for a great deal longer. If you've read Lowry's acceptance speech for the Newbery Award for The Giver, you know how much of her life went into this book. It shows. It's crafted, with precision. I enjoy The Hunger Games series, but they're about as far apart as possible while both still being Young Adult fiction. I get the sense of time spent with The Giver, and it's both in how the book was written and how it is presented. Watching Jonas digest his world in the bits and pieces he is fed by the Giver is spellbinding.
Lowry's acceptance speech in 1994 has always bothered me, however. Her insistence that she won't tell you the true ending ("There isn't one," she says. "There's a right one for each of us, and it depends on our own beliefs, our own hopes.") of course was eliminated with the two previous sequels, Gathering Blue and The Messenger. We know what happened at the end of The Giver, or at least what did NOT happen. A great deal of guesswork was eliminated, and that flies in the face of that first book and what ending was published. We actually DO know what happened with Gabriel and Jonas on that sled at the end of the Giver.
Gathering Blue and The Messenger are not bad books (I enjoyed Gathering Blue more) but they are inferior to The Giver, and I think by far. Knowing the personal touches Lowry put into The Giver, it's not a surprise. But that Newbery speech always bothered me. Why the change in opinion to something so important?
When a librarian friend offered the chance to read Son, I said yes without a bit of hesitation. As far as the quality of writing, it's on par with The Giver, for the most part. There are some parts that aren't as good, but the level of detail, and the attention to detail, are make this book well-written. Seeing the published interviews in the past few days ahead of this book, there's no doubt that the loss of a son affected Lowry just as powerfully asher upbringing did. The proof is in this book.
And yet, the promise lost from The Giver is part of the problem. If I were to speak to Ms. Lowry, I would want to know: how far into the future did you expect this series to go? The Giver has always seemed like it was meant to stand alone. Would it have been better if it did? If you didn't add the connections to The Giver in the next two in this series, could they have stood on their own? Is it the George Lucas "syndrome", where revisionist history attempts to erase the proof that it was meant to stand alone, that there was no way of knowing how much the world would love your work and how much the world would beg for more? Any reasonable fan knows how much evidence there is that "Star Wars" was something no one could have imagined would become as big as it did...and the clumsy attempts to erase the proof make it that much more obvious. No, there never were Jonas action figures, but the point remains. What caused the change?
However, my personal bias aside, there are other problems. Is the book rooted in science, or fantasy? The attempts to include elements of fantasy or religion here seem to greatly take away from the overall, noble premise of searching for someone you have lost, and still may never see again. The endurance training here is even more realistic (because we see it) than Jonas' mental preparation in The Giver, though the difference between the two is shown in the two books.
The biggest problem? Well, here it is, without spoilers. The book had me. I enjoyed it, and thought it was going well. The various surprises all fit and made sense, and I felt that I hadn't seen them coming. And then Claire gets to the top. From that point on, the book falls off the rails and adds things from out of left field. Again, is this the same world that practiced eugenics and had the ability to control the weather? It can't be. How could it be?
I understand and appreciate the pain that Ms. Lowry felt losing a child, and I hope that this book proved cathartic for her. I'm sure it did, because this book has quite a bit of craft in it as well. However, the end is tacked on from another book by another author...it certainly seems that way.
So, Ms. Lowry says this is the end of the series. Will it truly be?
on October 11, 2012
First, I need to admit that The Giver is probably my favorite dystopian book of all time. I have used it in my classroom for years and each time I read it I find something new and fresh to focus on . . . but, this is not a review of The Giver.
The first part of the book I absolutely loved. I was savoring the pages, reading it slow, wanting to take it in and experience it. I normally fly through books so quickly I have a hard time remembering the characters and the plot soon after I put them down. Not so with this book; I took my time - the beginning of the story begged for that type of reading. The character of Claire was amazing and I was thrilled to be back in Jonas' world. I felt Claire's induction in the quartet was believable and wonderfully creative. The "Water Claire" section was also written very well and interesting. It flowed quite nicely with the first part of the story.
And then . . . the last section. It was as if there was either a mad rush to bring this all together or somebody different wrote the ending. I really don't know what happened. This wonderful, engaging, well developed story split into a hodgepodge mess that I had a hard time finishing. I lost complete interest in Claire and I had very little positive feelings toward Gabe. The ending was predictable and swift.
I was asked today by some teachers if I would recommend the novel. My response was to read the first two sections and perhaps just create their own ending for the last section. I read another review that suggested that this might not be the final installment. I almost hope that it isn't - I would love to be taken back to the original village. Perhaps learn what happened when Jonas left. Or, simply finish the series with the same beautiful writing, character development, and creative storyline that the first book in the series was teeming with.
SON is the final volume in Lois Lowry's epic series which began with THE GIVER. Pulling together characters from all three previous novels, SON both concludes Jonas's journey and celebrates the ultimate power of love over evil. This is a magical and mythic story, set in three distinct and different communities. But in all three the yearning for love becomes the definition of what it means to be human.
The first part of SON takes place in the same community where Jonas became apprentice to "The Giver." This time, however, we see the story from the perspective of fourteen-year-old Claire, who is about to deliver her first child (or "Product," as the community calls it). Claire is a "birthmother," and her role is to produce "newchildren" to be assigned to married couples. When something goes wrong during the delivery, Claire is reassigned to the Fish Hatchery and her newborn son is sent to the nursery. She is not supposed to think about him again, but she can't help it, and before too long she's manufacturing excuses to visit him, to learn about him, and to become part of his life. Something happens, however - those familiar with THE GIVER know what that is - and Claire is left alone to escape this community that has denied her the right to love.
Claire's story continues in a new community at the edge of the sea, surrounded by massive cliffs that keep the village isolated and cut off from other people. Here, Claire becomes more and more fixated on finding her son - no longer a baby - but "climbing out" is a dangerous feat that has seldom been attempted. Can Claire scale the massive cliffs and find her son? What will she have to give up in order to succeed? And will her ultimate sacrifice be worth it in the end?
The final section of SON takes place in the same village where MESSENGER is set. We meet Jonas again, who was once Leader of that community, and Kira (first introduced in GATHERING BLUE). Gabe is there too, now fifteen and determined to discover the truth about his past. All of their stories - and Claire's - come together in the novel's exciting conclusion, as they learn that "Those who aren't nourished will die." This is a satisfying and uplifting final volume in what is a wonderful series for children and young adults.
As always, Lowry's prose is crisp and beautifully simple; she uses just enough interesting words to challenge young readers without frustrating them. The subject matter here may be a bit more mature than what we find in THE GIVER, but it's a story young teens are sure to love. My only disappointment is that Lowry never gives us a glimpse of what Jonas's community was like after he left. That was always something that intrigued me - all those emotions and colors flooding back into their lives must have really shaken things up! Also, I've long been convinced that Jonas died at the end of THE GIVER - I know Lowry has discussed this, and her decision to "hint" at his survival in the subsequent novels was made to satisfy younger readers who were devastated at the thought of his death. She once said readers were free to interpret this any way they chose. But here the "hints" are made real, and there is no doubt that both Jonas and Gabe survived. I think that does change the significance of the ending of THE GIVER. But I have to admit, I like the way Jonas and Gabe play into this final book. So I'll go with the flow!
SON is a wonderful novel, and a worthy conclusion to Lowry's GIVER series. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who has read the earlier books. If you haven't read them - lucky you! - I suggest starting with THE GIVER, since much of this story reflects that novel. These are great novels and Lowry is a great writer. Highly recommended.
I read Lois Lowry's masterpiece, The Giver when I was 13 or 14 and found it unforgettable. Gathering Blue wasn't quite as good, but I still loved it and liked the way it worked as a kind of mirror to its companion. When it came to Messenger, though... it wasn't the way it spoiled "The Giver"'s ending that got me. That part bothered me, but the quality of the book didn't hinge on it. No, what bothered me about "Messenger" was that it was not as complex as the previous two and came off as kind of preachy. Also, Trademaster utilized a kind of magic that I felt didn't quite fit in the world Lowry had constructed. It wasn't terrible, but not what I was hoping for.
This time, I was expecting something on par with "Messenger," but I hoped against hope that it might be better than that. Was it? Well... kind of? I enjoyed the first two parts. It was nice to return to the Community, and though Claire's story doesn't have the same shock and urgency as Jonas', it was interesting to see another aspect of life in his former home. Claire was a sympathetic character here, and though not a lot happens until the end of part I, it held my attention. In part II, Claire escapes the Community and lives in a village that's a bit similar to (but kinder than) Kira's old village. The other characters here, like Alys and Einar, are well-characterized and likable, and Claire grows and becomes a tenacious and strong young woman. During these two parts, there were small things- minor inconsistencies with the first book (like when Claire mentions that the Community hardly ever exchanges visitations with other communities; this was shown to be not uncommon in "The Giver"). This upset my belief in the book a bit, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment and I don't think it affected the quality of the book. "Son" obviously didn't have the same complexity as the first two books, but it was at least a good story that fit with its predecessors.
Then I got to part III. Trademaster reappears and becomes a major part of the story. I didn't much care for him in the "Messenger," and moreover, he kind of comes out of nowhere. Usually, this kind of final boss character is alluded to near the beginning of a book; defeating him is a major objective of the story. Following convention does not necessarily make for a good book, but it felt random. He also never felt like that threatening a character in either book. I had trouble seeing him as the main villain of the story. The way he's defeated in the end is cliche, silly, anti-climactic, and, I felt, thematically unrealistic. Also, I didn't like that he was portrayed as a kind of evil that is evil just because. One of the things I loved most about "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue" was that it portrayed evil as something natural. People aren't bad, but they're selfish, and even when they try to do the right thing, they often don't understand the true consequences of their actions. "The Giver" had such compassion for even the oppressors, something rare in fiction. Here, evil is explained in a similar way, but with a supernatural, manipulative element that I feel doesn't belong. It could have worked. Trademaster could have been someone else who had a power, someone who, unlike our heroes, chose to misuse it. It makes perfect sense that such a person could exist in this world, and nothing would be changed in the way he affects other people. But the battle between ultimate evil and the POWER OF LOVE feels tired and uncomplicated.
If Gabe were a more interesting character, maybe this wouldn't have mattered as much, but alas, he's kind of blank. We hear things about him, but we don't really spend enough time with him to get to know him. His power, veering, could have been used in a great way, and it fit so well with Lowry's favorite themes. But it's not used to its full potential at all. And don't even get me started on Jonas and Kira. Lowry has them happily married now, with two toddlers named after their dead friend and mentor, and Jonas has given up his position as Leader to spend more time with his family. His gift is also a lot more flashy now, and doesn't work in the same subtle, undefinable way that it did in "The Giver." Matty is the hero of the village, and everyone tries to be a better person to be worthy of his sacrifice. It was all just too picture-perfect, despite the looming threat.
You know what I felt like I was reading when I read part III (and somewhat when I read the first two parts)? Fan-fiction. Don't get me wrong, fan-fiction can be amazing, sometimes even better than the work that inspired it. But it's often mediocre, with less complexity than the source material. Villains appear out of nowhere, or pre-existing ones are drastically played up. Characters are a bit out of character, and their lives work out in such adorable ways. I got the feeling Lowry a) didn't have enough material for a fourth book (or a third, really), so she forced it, and b) let her infatuation with her characters control her writing. And I do believe she's better than that.
IN SHORT: "Son" was never going to be as complex, shocking, or compelling as "The Giver," or "Gathering Blue," for that matter, but I was hoping it'd be better than "Messenger" at least. And for the first two parts, it was. Claire is a sympathetic character who gets great development, and it was enjoyable to return to the world of the first two books (though we don't get to see Kira's original village specifically). Some of the supporting characters were very strong. And the story was at least compelling and interesting. In part III, however, things go downhill (no "Giver" pun intended). The evil that appears doesn't seem as threatening as it's made out to be, isn't very complex (and doesn't fit thematically with the first two books), and is defeated in a cliche, silly way. We never get to know the other major character, Gabe, very well, and his power isn't used to its full-potential. The previous characters' lives are just too picture-perfect, and the effect was that a story that had felt only slightly fan-ficc-y in the first two parts felt overwhelmingly so in the third. I really didn't believe much in the reality of this book, the way I did with "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue." It was less believable to me than "Messenger," even, a book I'm not too fond of. Read this book to get the end of the story, I guess, but don't get your hopes too high.
No book review is objective, but there are different kinds of subjectivity. In the case of SON, the latest and (for the moment) final book in what is now billed as The Giver Quartet, I should note that the Newbery Medal-winning book that gives the series its title was one of my favorites as a child. Rereading it recently in preparation for this new volume, I was astonished at how fresh it remains in my mind; I had listened to the audiobook version many years ago, and could still "hear" the narrator's interpretations of particular lines playing in my head. The point is that however I might judge THE GIVER and its sequels as an adult, I can also access my childish enthusiasm for that world, and that enthusiasm will likely influence my judgment of SON, which is a more direct sequel to THE GIVER than either of the other books in the quartet. Readers who wish, as I did, to know as little about this new book as possible should stop reading my review, which must discuss plot points in order to explain certain judgments, with this introductory paragraph. For them, my capsule judgment: SON, while not quite the equal of THE GIVER, is Lowry's most successful book in this universe since then, a charming, powerful story that transcends a few structural issues that emerge from its place in the series.
What is now The Giver Quartet began in 1993 with THE GIVER, a standalone children's novel about a dystopian future, with an ambiguous ending. Although some of its world-building may not stand up to adult scrutiny, the novel remains a contemporary children's classic. In 2000 came GATHERING BLUE, a thematically-similar look at a different kind of post-apocalyptic society, with only a slight, (again) ambiguous connection to THE GIVER. That book's world wasn't as darkly thought-provoking as THE GIVER's, and its ending was somewhat abrupt and undramatic, but it had its charms. 2004 saw the release of what was then presented as the final book in The Giver Trilogy: MESSENGER. Largely a sequel to GATHERING BLUE but incorporating elements from THE GIVER and clarifying that book's ending, MESSENGER made for a downbeat, underwhelming conclusion, with an especially sudden ending that left part of its story seemingly unresolved. And now in 2012 we SON, which runs parallel to THE GIVER, follows up the unresolved storyline from MESSENGER, and tells a separate story of its own. With all that going on, it's no surprise that SON is somewhat disjointed, with a sudden shift in protagonist and another abrupt, if thoroughly conclusive, resolution.
SON begins in the community introduced in THE GIVER: a world where medication and social control have eliminated serious conflict-- and genuine emotion along with it. Carefully-selected women are assigned to be "Birthmothers," impregnated, and separated from their offspring at birth, so the children can be allocated to acceptable parents. A daily pill is supposed to dull any pain and resentment this might cause. But when Claire's first birth goes wrong, she's hastily re-assigned to a mundane job in the community's fish hatchery-- and no one supplies her with pills. So she still feels a yearning for the son who was taken from her, and begins visiting the Childcare Center to bond with him on the sly. It's not enough of a connection to satisfy her, but it works, until a surprising turn of events (surprising if you haven't read THE GIVER, anyway) separates Claire from her son, and from the only life she's ever known. In a primitive village where even the smallest task involves realities from which her community had sheltered her, Claire must find the strength to make a difficult journey that offers the possibility of a reunion with the son she barely knows-- if she can pay the price.
The first third of SON is light on plot and character development, but the portrayal of that restrictive community, where people live horribly constrained lives but don't have any idea what they're missing, remains effective without overloading on melodrama, and readers of THE GIVER will appreciate another perspective on its events. The middle section, set in the isolated village, is the only part of the book that tells a story entirely separate from the rest of the series; perhaps not coincidentally, it's also the best. Claire's tragedy and sense of determination are strongly conveyed, the setting is delightfully traditional but not too sentimental, and the task that faces her is a harrowing one. Indeed, it's more dramatic than what waits for the book's other protagonist in the final third of the book, where characters and situations from GATHERING BLUE and MESSENGER come into play. It's hard to say too much about that without revealing key details about SON and those other books, but there isn't room for the second protagonist to have much personality, and although the stakes of the ending are almost ridiculously high, events play out so quickly that there's a sense of anti-climax that could prove disappointing to some. Explanations of pertinent details from the plots of previous books will keep this one accessible to new audiences but may annoy those who remember the gist of what has come before. These quibbles (only some of which will apply to teen readers) aside, SON is what Lowry has always specialized in: a fast-moving, competently-written story with a likable child protagonist, a strong narrative arc, and a little adult wisdom about life, which emerges naturally rather than feeling like shoehorned preaching.
So is The Giver series actually over, or might what was once a trilogy become a quintet? From the way the book is promoted, Lowry evidently feels she has reached the end of the story, but then she thought that at least once before. SON brings all the previous books together in a way that MESSENGER didn't, and ties up what seem to have been the last loose ends, so I think it may truly be the conclusion. But there's always room for more. If Lowry realizes there's something else she wants to say, I'm sure it'll be worth finding out what. MESSENGER may have been a weak link in the chain, but it demonstrated that Lowry is an enjoyable writer even of weaker books, and SON, despite its imperfections, is a reminder of the emotional resonance she can achieve when her extraordinary imagination is working at full force. (4.5/5)
on December 31, 2012
Disclaimer: I've re-read The Giver about twenty times since I was a child, so I know the story very well. I only read Gathering Blue and Messenger once each, many years ago, so I've forgotten those and can't give an opinion about Son in relation to them.
That being said, I found the fourth book quite disappointing. The Giver takes place in a futuristic dystopian society -- one that could be imagined as our own future. This lends to the fascinating quality of the book: the reader thinks, "This could be real!" When Jonas leaves the Community at the end, he arrives at a house with a Christmas tree and a happy family, and we can imagine that he has arrived in a society not unlike our own present society. Imagine if a community like Jonas' existed, isolated, but side by side with present society as we know it! What a fascinating thought! But there it ends: Son takes us away from that possible realism and into an unknown time period (seemingly in the past) with fantastical and magical elements. Adding the element of magic and fantasy destroyed the innate truth of The Giver, for me.
Reading the parallel story of Claire in Part 1 was enjoyable, and getting more depth about the Birthmothers and the community helped flesh out Jonas' story. But it felt a bit rushed-through, and it went downhill from there. I love Lois Lowry, but dividing her book into named parts allowed her to get away with a very disjointed story. Part 2 was fun to read, although I wondered about this society Claire found herself in that seemed like something out of the first part of the 20th century, not another community of the futuristic era she came from. One community can control the weather, and another is illiterate? And she got from one to the other by boat and by water? I wish we knew how she got there - seems like a cop-out to have her forget, so the reader can't know, and the author doesn't have to explain. Also, too much time was spent explaining how Claire got strong. I kept thinking, "Okay, I get it, she uses non-technical tools like rocks to strengthen herself, very good, moving on." I thought that her climb up the cliff could lead us to a satisfying ending: we find Gabe and Jonas in their new community (which I thought would be like society as we know it now, an escape from the place where they were born) and everything comes together.
I was wrong. Suddenly we have left the original community, and we've left the old-fashioned village where Claire found herself, and we've entered the realm of fantasy. Magic! Evil! Superpowers! The Giver is being revisited now as if it is a fantasy novel, which it is not. In The Giver, "seeing beyond" was something that all humans possessed and that Jonas' community had lost. "Hearing beyond" was hearing music. In Son, "seeing beyond" is now a superpower that only Jonas has, and other characters have other powers! Because of their blue eyes! And evil exists, personified as a man, who has magical powers to destroy! Ms. Lowry, where did The Giver's believable realism go?
Son didn't seem to take place in the same world as The Giver, and it didn't seem very cohesive as a book. I think Lowry would have done better writing a sequel to The Giver that had nothing to do with Gathering Blue and Messenger, and that didn't feel the need to tie together elements from all of the books.
The Giver is one of my favorite books of all time. It touched me in its simplicity, the magnitude of its meaning and the great message it carried. Because of this, I loved Lois Lowry. The Giver was a revelation. So, when she released Gathering Blue and Messenger, I read those as well. They were not as good as The Giver. Very few things will be. I didn't mind suspending belief for a bit for The Giver, or turning a blind eye to gaping plot holes. The book was just good, good in its message and how inspirational it was. Sigh...it was so good.
So, I am at a bit of a loss with Son, the culmination to the quartet. First issue. Why is it 393 pages? It was mostly side plots and fluff. The book is separated into three parts (Before, Between and Beyond). It lets us know what happened to Jonas, Gabe and Kira. It also introduces us to a new character, Claire. The 'Before' part was very good and well told. You got to know Claire, like her and root for her. She is an extremely likable character. And the book seemed good and then halfway through Between, it all went downhill. Implausible thing upon implausible thing. From memory loss, to a cliff (that happened to be the only way out....really? just get on a boat!), to the most boring training ever. [SPOILER ---- really took that long?! I rock climb, it doesn't take THAT long to get into that good of a physical shape, it takes long but 6-7 years!? ----END SPOILER].
The between community, also had its issues, none with good conclusions or explanations. As pointedly as we saw the issues in the other communities in the book, the one in Between is barely acknowledged, as if there is nothing wrong with gender inequality. As many issues as the community of The Giver and Son (at the beginning), I liked its egalitarianism and gender neutral view of work. This new community had the issues of women's virtue, and women tending the house and blah blah blah.
Then the book took a nose dive. The character of Gabe was just so... meh. Besides his gift, we don't see that much to make him as special as Jonas or Claire were. Or even Kira. The introspection was minimal, just introducing us to him, what he wants and his gift. Really, he was kind of bratty.
And then the end... really? Jonas, Kira and Matty all went through transitions, travels and troubles that took them years. It allowed them to grow, they saw the world a different way. They learned in a gradual and clear way. This Gabe kid went all epiphany on us [SPOILER ----- after internally saying that what he needed to talk to Jonas about was more important than Jonas sitting with a dying woman, accompanying her in her deathbed, what a brat! ----- END SPOILER].
I hated writing this review. I absolutely adore The Giver and even like Gathering Blue and Messenger. But, this book pales in comparison to the former titles. I honestly wish, Lois Lowry had ended with Messenger.
Almost twenty years after "The Giver", Lois Lowry offers up the story's conclusion in "Son" (aptly named). The story begins with Claire, a girl of fourteen who lives in the same Community as Jonas (from "The Giver"). At her Ceremony of Twelve Clarie is given her assignment, Birthmother. But during the birthing something goes wrong and while both Claire and the child (product number 36) are spared, Claire is reassigned. Yet even in her new job, Claire cannot stop thinking about her child, the child that she wasn't allowed to keep or even see. Soon Claire makes the decision to stop at nothing in order to find her child. A decision that will test her endurance, her will, and her commitment, as well as the gracious benevolence and unbounded love of others. A decision that will set her on a collision course with Jonas.
While "Son" may be considered part of "The Worlds of Lois Lowry" trilogy (now a quartet) it is unquestionably the conclusion to "The Giver" (thus making the two books a duo). It is absolutely not necessary for one to have read "Gathering Blue" or "The Messenger" to understand or enjoy this inspirational book. "Son" is beautifully written in a sing-song type of prose. It's easy for me to imagine a teller of tales recounting the story to a large audience as they cozy up in front of a roaring fire. The book is quite a bit longer than "The Giver" and is divided into three sections each spanning the length of one leg of Claire's journey. This is both appropriate and intelligent for it becomes a book within a book (which has its own beginning, middle, and end). If I had to complain about something, I would remark on my desire to have a longer book three (the third and final section in the novel). I felt as if it collapsed a little too quickly. However, that took little away from my overall experience. Is the book "better" or "as good as" "The Giver"? *Shrugs* I feel as though that is a rather inane question. Can anything really compete with something that has been idolized and held dear to so many for close to two decades? That's quite a lofty request to make. I will say, that after reading "Son" I can't imagine it ending any other way; and THAT says it all.