Posted: September 6, 2014 by BA Dillon in GUEST REVIEWERS - FICTION

the giver quartet

Reviewed by B.A. Dillon

How does one even begin to write a review on this delicious quartet given to us by the wonderful Lois Lowry? What I do know, is that since I finished reading all four books nothing else can compare. Nothing. Lois Lowry writes for a much younger audience, but when I participated recently in a chat with Ms. Lowry on Goodreads, I took note that most of the participants were adults. Similarly, most of the reviews on Amazon are also written by adults. Why does this series expand so well out of its demographic and fuel interest that spans to all generations? Simply put – it is incredible writing. Lois Lowry put The Giver in the hands of teens well before The Hunger Games, The Divergent Series, and The Maze Runner, and it has weathered the test of time.

The plot is suspenseful and thought-provoking. The story is about a boy name Jonas who lives in the “ideal world.” There’s no pain, worries or history from the world before. With that said, they also experience no pleasure, excitement, or have the knowledge to reflect over mistakes – there simply are no lessons to learn outside of what is delivered inside their “perfect classrooms.” At the age of twelve, all are considered ready to prepare for adulthood, and Jonas is assigned the single position of “Receiver of Memory.” Jonas is unaware that “his gift” is unique and therefore separates him from the others in his age group. This assignment leaves Jonas with many questions, and he wonders if the way his family unit has lived is really only existing in a dull, grey world. No spoilers from this reviewer, but many who love this book have trouble with the way it ends. Ms. Lowry leaves the reader with questions, but interesting ones at that. It wasn’t until my own book club (made up entirely of teachers), read this book did I give the end of the story my attention.

Most of my book club members were unaware that the series does indeed continue. If it’s possible, I loved Gathering Blue more. Kira’s society is the antithesis of the land where Jonas was raised. Instead of a perfect, ordered society, Kira’s is barbaric and ruled by deceit. The lame, the blind, the deaf, the poor are considered weak and therefore shunned by society. Kira, like Jonas from The Giver, has a very special talent. When all her hope is lost, she is taken from the turmoil of her village and given the task of sewing historical pictures on the robe worn by the Singer at the annual Ruin Song Gathering. With the help of a poor and ornery boy, Matt, Kira finds the plant needed to create the color ‘blue’ which somehow delivers her the courage she will need to shape her future.

In Messenger, Matt or Matty’s story continues has be befriends a blind man – The Seer. Leaving the barbaric village of his birth, Matty helps the blind man return to his own village through the treacherous forest. Matty hopes someday he will be given the name Messenger since he literally has been delivering messages throughout this community since his arrival. At a very young age, he discovers his ability to heal others, and is under the watchful kind eye of The Leader. His gift will have a profound impact on his new family and village. Their village offers refuge to all newcomers, especially those who are disabled and unwelcomed in their own towns. But a sinister work from beyond is a force hoping to change the face of the village. Pure evil is at work. Villagers begin to “trade parts of themselves” with this dark force and the village begins to change as well. Messenger is book about Utopia gone wrong, but is full of many powerful messages. My book club made many connections to American History and even felt it connected to the New Testament and the story of Jesus. We had a TON of questions, and still cannot stop discussing this one. Can I say – I cried like a fool when this book came to an end.

Son is the final book in the series. This book had such a profound effect on me – I’m not even sure where to begin. Son is told in three parts. The beginning tells the story of Water Claire. She washed up on shore, and no one knew what society she came from. There’s a beautiful love story that’s told without any sexual innuendo, and another love story about what is means to be a mother. Her thoughts, her actions, her everything is SO powerful, this one has left me in a perpetual thought cycle. I refuse to write another detail about the final story from this beautiful quartet – readers must simply experience it, live it, devour it.

As a teacher by day, I understand why this book is required middle school reading. I know this is a young adult book, but it’s affected me like none other. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now. Lois Lowry has a solution to most of the world’s problems. And the world is in the crapper these days. So, I’m assigning summer, fall, winter, and spring reading to the leaders of all nations, religions, businesses, organizations, and anyone claiming to be a human being. The message at the end of the series (SON) is so clear-cut and powerful, a TWELVE figured it all out on his own. Humanity is lost on the world now – maybe these words might bring it home. The movie released on August 15th, and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. I usually am. The movie is NEVER as good as the book, but Lois Lowry had a hand in it, and I believe most will be satisfied that the overall theme of the book has not been tarnished. Jeff Bridges bought the rights to make this movie twenty years ago. That’s how much the story meant to him, and I understand why. The stories of Jonas, Kira, Matty, Water Claire, and Gabe touched my heart like none other.

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