Book Review – The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

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TITLE:  The Giver Quartet; The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son

AUTHOR:  Lois Lowry

GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING:

  • The Giver – 4.11 out of 5 stars; 846,289 ratings
  • Gathering Blue – 3.78 out of 5 stars; 69,998 ratings
  • Messenger – 3.86 out of 5 stars; 46,022 ratings
  • Son – 3.95 out of 5 stars; 22,980 ratings

SYNOPSIS PROVIDED:

The GiverSynopsis Source

There is no turning back once you learn the truth.

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

Gathering BlueSynopsis Source

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.

MessengerSynopsis Source

Strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to new strangers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter to return with him before it’s too late. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.

SonSynopsis Source

They called 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.

Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messengerwhere a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

MY REVIEW:

I never would have imagined the immense, interconnected world that Lois Lowry created within these four novels upon first reading The Giver as part of my required reading in the seventh grade.  At the time, I didn’t know that there were other books which came after the story of Jonas and Gabe, though I recall asking myself what happened to them both and wondering if they had survived.  I had always imagined a happy ending for the two of them and I am glad to have had the opportunity to experience the resolution of their story, a story which spanned over many communities and encompassed the lives of many characters; a true experience of what it means to be a part of the world at large.

It is important to note that this quartet, this series, is by no means dystopian fiction, though there are those who would seemingly apply this category/genre to these novels (*cough cough* I partially blame this on the recent attention and popularity the genre has achieved).  This isn’t some world on the brink of chaos and destruction, nor is it a society on the mend attempting to rebuild itself.  It is a story of several different communities who all have different definitions of what it means to be a functioning community.  Each community specifically values certain characteristics while attempting to suppress those which are considered to be less desirable.  What Lowry is able to show us is that there are different ways in which a community can be ran and that there isn’t just one correct way!  In a world which seems to have a difficult time in allowing and understanding this very same principle, perhaps we should all be taking a lesson from Lowry’s books.

Truthfully, I somewhat fear for the future of this quartet due to the movie release of The Giver.  I admit, I have always been incredibly hesitant in regards to books becoming movies…this is just because I typically will picture the book in my mind’s eye as I am reading it and then find myself to be disappointed when the movie either deviates from or doesn’t live up to the picture I’ve created.  My fear is that with the coming surge of attention that the first book is going to receive, people will look to this series to be something it isn’t.  I fear that they will approach this series looking for the wrong thing and find themselves disappointed and therefore not giving Lowry’s world a true chance to stand on its own merit.  I won’t have a better stance on this until I see the movie for myself, so I will revisit this subject at a later date and time once I have seen the movie.

TL;DR REVIEW: 4.00 out of 5 stars.  While I found myself to enjoy the series as a whole, especially once I reached the conclusion, I at times found it difficult to continue reading the books.  I felt as if I was standing on the end of a cliff at the end of each book, teetering, and I didn’t know whether or not I was going to fall or find balance.  I felt like there wasn’t a real sense of resolution at the end of each novel.  While this allows for the reader to form their own thoughts about how the story ends, it can become rather frustrating.  Otherwise, the characters and their stories were absolutely wonderful to read and to experience.

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: #BookBlogWriMo – Day 10 and 11 | Reviews from a Self Proclaimed Bibliophile

  2. Pingback: 2014 End of Year Book Survey | Reviews from a Self Proclaimed Bibliophile

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