January 2000, Ember
Good Reads + Amazon
"It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever."
April 2004, Ember
Good Reads + Amazon
"For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man, known for his special sight. Village was a place that welcomed new comers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself."
Son (The Giver #4) by Lois Lowry
October 2012, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
"They call her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn't exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice."
I have been putting
these this review off for what feels like weeks. Originally I was going to write a separate review for each but I really just do not have that much to say about these books... but I haven't written a review in a really long time... or even reviewed a book over on my Youtube channel, so I'm just going to grit my teeth and get through this.
These books were incredibly disappointing.
Yep, I said it. And I'm sorry, I really am. I wanted so badly to fall in love with these books like I fell in love with The Giver all those years ago in elementary school when I was first introduced to this world. Alright, here it goes. I'm going to briefly talk about each book in the order that I read them.
Now, I need to give a word of caution to those of you who are interested in reading Son. Son is not a sequel to The Giver. To fully understand the story, you need to have read at the very least Messenger. After finishing Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, I was in a wee reading slump and decided to pick up Son, excited to see what happened to Jonas and the baby, Gabriel (and at this point, I had not read Gathering Blue or Messenger). For the most part, I could follow what was happening... Claire's story follows the same timeline as in The Giver... it was interesting to see a different aspect of the infamous Community. But Claire's struggle is to connect with her son and because I am not a mother myself, I was not able to really sympathize with her situation. Perhaps when I have a child, I will appreciate her more but for the most part, I was bored with her character.
So, everything was going okay... until about 3/4 of the way into the story... when Lowry introduces Trade Master. Trade Master? Who the heck is this guy? I had no idea who this man was and couldn't believe that Lowry was introducing an antagonist this late in the game. Little did I know that Trade Master played a roll in Messenger... But because I had no earlier introduction to Trade Master, I didn't really care about the conflict that he presented and I didn't understand the enormity of the task set before the Villagers. For most of the time, I felt like I was flipping pages to get through the story. Yeah, Son was alright... but it just wasn't the same reading experience for me as The Giver.
Once I finished Son, I decided to pick up Gathering Blue in hopes that it would help me better appreciate Son. Next to The Giver, Gathering Blue is definitely my favorite of the series. Kira is an easy character to relate to on multiple levels - she often finds herself at odds with the culturally accepted norms of society, she struggles to find her place within her community, and she also struggles to find and appreciate her own value. The Village of Gathering Blue offers an interesting juxtaposition to the community in The Giver - a cruel and violent setting as opposed to the polite yet emotionally detached. The pacing of the story was steady and kept me interested the entire way through. Gathering Blue is the only book of the series that I felt lived up to my expectations and I really have no complaints.
Which brings us to Messenger... The contents of this particular book should have been the one to answer the most questions that I had regarding Son. Messenger introduces the almost utopia to which Jonas and Gabe flee to at the end of The Giver, and the place that Claire journeys to in pursuit of her son. We are offered the closest semblance of a utopia in a world of dystopias... This is also the story in which Trade Master is introduced. However (and this is a big however), I really think that this book would have functioned better as a short story. I could not connect with Matty's character and I don't think that Trade Master played a big enough part to be the villian of Son. The primary message (in my humble opinion) is that, where humans are concerned, there will be corruption... and I really don't think that Lowry needed an entire novella to accomplish this and set the scene for the "afters" of the previous two books. Lois Lowry also added a pretty big magical element to this book - which she expands upon in Son. Although Lowry set up the beginnings of a sort of magic in Gathering Blue, the amount that existed in Messenger seemed totally unbelievable. Messenger simply felt too different from The Giver for me to care about it as a part of a series from a beloved book.
Alright, guys. Please don't misunderstand me - these books were not terrible. The biggest obstacles that stood between me and loving these books were: 1. the giant freaking pedestal that I've kept The Giver on since my childhood and, 2. the amount of time that has elapsed since I read The Giver. Perhaps if I had read books 1 and 2 when I was younger, I would have been more compelled by the stories and connected more with the characters. So, yeah.
Have you guys read The Giver series? What did you think? If you have a positive argument for any of these books - please let me know! I desperately wanted to love these stories!
I'll see you on Tuesday!