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Gathering Blue Paperback – January 24, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,392 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Giver Quartet Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Lois Lowry's magnificent novel of the distant future, The Giver, is set in a highly technical and emotionally repressed society. This eagerly awaited companion volume, by contrast, takes place in a village with only the most rudimentary technology, where anger, greed, envy, and casual cruelty make ordinary people's lives short and brutish. This society, like the one portrayed in The Giver, is controlled by merciless authorities with their own complex agendas and secrets. And at the center of both stories there is a young person who is given the responsibility of preserving the memory of the culture--and who finds the vision to transform it.

Kira, newly orphaned and lame from birth, is taken from the turmoil of the village to live in the grand Council Edifice because of her skill at embroidery. There she is given the task of restoring the historical pictures sewn on the robe worn at the annual Ruin Song Gathering, a solemn day-long performance of the story of their world's past. Down the hall lives Thomas the Carver, a young boy who works on the intricate symbols carved on the Singer's staff, and a tiny girl who is being trained as the next Singer. Over the three artists hovers the menace of authority, seemingly kind but suffocating to their creativity, and the dark secret at the heart of the Ruin Song.

With the help of a cheerful waif called Matt and his little dog, Kira at last finds the way to the plant that will allow her to create the missing color--blue--and, symbolically, to find the courage to shape the future by following her art wherever it may lead. With astonishing originality, Lowry has again created a vivid and unforgettable setting for this thrilling story that raises profound questions about the mystery of art, the importance of memory, and the centrality of love. (Ages 10 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

From Publishers Weekly

After conjuring the pitfalls of a technologically advanced society in The Giver, Lowry looks toward a different type of future to create this dark, prophetic tale with a strong medieval flavor. Having suffered numerous unnamed disasters (aka, the Ruin), civilization has regressed to a primitive, technology-free state; an opening author's note describes a society in which "disorder, savagery, and self-interest" rule. Kira, a crippled young weaver, has been raised and taught her craft by her mother, after her father was allegedly killed by "beasts." When her mother dies, Kira fears that she will be cast out of the village. Instead, the society's Council of Guardians installs her as caretaker of the Singer's robe, a precious ceremonial garment depicting the history of the world and used at the annual Gathering. She moves to the Council Edifice, a gothic-style structure, one of the few to survive the Ruin. The edifice and other settings, such as the FenAthe village ghettoAand the small plot where Annabella (an elder weaver who mentors Kira after her mother's death) lives are especially well drawn, and the characterizations of Kira and the other artists who cohabit the stone residence are the novel's greatest strength. But the narrative hammers at the theme of the imprisoned artist. And readers may well predict where several important plot threads are headed (e.g., the role of Kira's Guardian, Jamison; her father's disappearance), while larger issues, such as the society's downfall, are left to readers' imaginations. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reissue edition (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385732562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385732567
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,392 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Lois Lowry has written a number of excellent books including "Number the Stars" and my personal favorite, "The Giver." In fact, "The Giver" is a book that I would consider truly great. Reminiscent of Orwell's "1984", it, too, describes an anti-utopian future of considerable power. But, whereas in "1984" we know the strangeness of the world we are reading about from the first paragraph, Lowry builds the strangeness of the world of "The Giver" slowly, with revelations that take the story to a fever-pitch. It is a wonderful book.
"Gathering Blue" has a similar flavor to "The Giver" but not the power. Whereas "The Giver" reminded me of "1984", "Gathering Blue" reminded me of "Planet of the Apes." Now, I'm a fan of "Planet of the Apes", mind you, but it's not the same thing.
Again, in "Gathering Blue", there is the story of an anti-utopian future society. Kira is a girl who has lost both of her parents. The book opens with her mourning her mother. Because of her deformed leg, Kira is now at risk of being killed herself as she can no longer contribute to her society made primitive after an event called the Ruin. Her unequalled skill with a needle and thread, however, keep her alive and get her close enough to the power of her society to see its secret horrors.
"Gathering Blue" is a good story. Certainly better than much of what's out there. What I like about this story even over "The Giver" is that it seems almost more real. While reading, I felt that this kind of primitive society could really develop. What it lacks is the tension and surprises of "The Giver.
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Format: Hardcover
What if all modern technology vanished? What if the daily struggle for food and shelter became the utmost priority in our world? Who would be considered of value in the society that followed? Ms. Lowry has given readers a story with all the impact of her earlier book, The Giver. Gathering Blue is also a novel set in the possible future, where insular towns and villages have developed, and contact between them is almost nonexistent. In one of these villages, the reader is introduced to a young girl named Kira. Through Kira's eyes, the reader is gradually pulled in to discover the horrifying, and entirely possible, secret of Kira's world. Gathering Blue is absolutely stunning in the concepts it presents; I'm certain that teachers will want to incorporate this powerful book into their reading curriculum. Along with Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman, Gathering Blue will be among the top contenders for next year's Newbery Award.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like many readers, I was completely floored by THE GIVER. I had heard Lowry interviewed on NPR, and finding myself in a bookstore not long after, thumbed through the book-- and felt absolutely compelled to buy it. Reading that book I had to look up several times to wipe away tears, and look around at all the beauties of our own world that we so often take for granted-- like the color red-- singing-- and unconditional love.
Now, GATHERING BLUE did not have that impact for me. But it's a very good example of a YA novel with a smart, kind heroine in a world that is complex, often brutish, and all to human. Where the world of THE GIVER, we gradually discover, is technologically advanced but emotionally and psychologically regimented, even soul-destroying, the catastrophes have turned the world of GATHERING BLUE to a fierce hunter-gatherer society.
It's a world where deformed people are routinely abandoned to death at birth, and where children, or "tykes," are redistributed to other families should one parent die, where parenting is full of shouts and slaps (but also, we see in glimpses, some kisses and handholding) and where those who can't contribute or work in an obvious fashion are ruthlessly discarded.
For all that, however, it's a world more familiar to the reader than the world of THE GIVER, and somehow, a friendlier place. Perhaps because family units, however bickering, do exist, or because of the presence of a mischievous child named MATT who even has a pet dog, this world's harshness is less shocking. Everyone in the world is brought up with it, knows about, no secrets there.
There are secrets, however.
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Format: Hardcover
The Giver was my favorite book until I read Gathering Blue! This new book by Lowry is as intriguing as The Giver, and gives the reader more to think about. Science fiction is not my favorite genre, but these books are definitely an exception. Kira, the main character, is a likeable, compassionate young woman who is saved from death because of her talent for embroidery which she had learned from her mother. Matt, her friend is enjoyable in his naivity, but he definitly becomes a valuable friend. Thomas, the Carver, is interesting because of his artistry and background being so similar to Kira's. The theme of the artist as the predictor of the future is an interesting theme. This book explores the value that artist's bring to society, as well as, the importance of community and of love among humans. The idea of the artist being controlled by the state is interesting because of the many struggles our country has against/for censorship in the arts. I would recommend this book to young adults as well as adults.
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