Saturday, January 29, 2011

CBR III Review #28-#30 The Giver Series by Lois Lowry

CBR III Review #28: The Giver by Lois Lowry

I may be one of the few people who never read Lois Lowry's The Giver growing up. For some reason it was never assigned to me in any of my English classes but I remember seeing people carrying it around. I would like to start off by saying I am so glad I decided to read this book. I wish I had been assigned this book to read this novel growing up instead of an entire year of Shakespeare and and entire year of Greek plays. I read The Giver a few days ago and the novel still haunts me.

Twelve year old Jonas has grown up in a community where nothing bad ever happens and every decision is made for you.  In this society everyone's career is chosen for them at the age of 12.  Sexual impulses are squashed with a well regimented drug therapy, and later in life the society decides who your partner will be.  The society then provides you with two children to raise, One girl and one boy.  Once the elderly become a burden they are "released" from the society.  Infants who do not grow at an ideal rate as also "released".

At first glance the society seems perfect.  There is no crime, no poverty, no unemployment and everyone appears to be happy, but there is also no sex, no pure joy, no large families, and worst of all no love.  The society's mission is to promote "sameness".

The novel follows Jonas after he is  picked to be the next "Receiver of Memories."  This position is a very prestigious position because there is only ever one "Receiver of Memories" at one time.  Under the guidance of the man known as "the Giver" he begins to learn the mysteries of the world.  Jonas slowly learns about war, famine, love, and is educated on some things as basic as weather and colors.  As Jonas progresses in his chosen career path he starts to wonder if the perfect society is worth all the sacrifices.  Jonas and the Giver decide to try and change their society but will people who have never experience any true emotions be able to handle the history of the world?

CBR III Review #29: Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

I wanted to start off the review by letting everyone know that it isn't obvious that the novel Gathering Blue is a sequel to The Giver until one reads Messenger then all the pieces of the three novels fall into place.

The Giver is set in the distant future, the society relies on technology and medication to remain emotionally repressed.  Gathering Blue is set in a society that is the exact opposite of this. Kira is a young woman who is dealing with her mothers death when the novel opens.  Kira was born with a twisted leg and is unable to contribute to the society in a way that society feels is productive.  Once her mother dies the village takes it upon themselves to kick her out of the society and abandon her outside in the woods where the "beasts" will mostly likely eat her.  Fortunately for Kira, she is a gifted weaver and the societies leaders decide to take her in as long as she promises to repair a robe that has the society's history woven into it.  Kira is placed with a young man who is talented carver and very young girl who is a very talented singer.  Together the three of them start to unravel the secrets to their society and what they have been hiding.

Gathering Blue did not evoke the same feelings and emotions that The Giver was able to.  The characters are not as fleshed out and I really did not like the abrupt ending.  It felt like the novel just ended without a lot of explanation that was still needed.  I'll be honest I'm not sure if I disliked Gathering Blue because I was comparing it to the The Giver.  I wonder if I had picked it up with no expectations if I would have felt the same way.


CBR III Review #30: Messenger by Lois Lowry

Matty is a character from the novel Gathering Blue.  He is one of Kira's only friends even though he was much younger. Messenger picks up a few years after Gathering Blue and follows Matty who lives in a village that is close to the first village in The Giver and is also close to the village in the novel Gathering Blue.  Matty moved to this village after the conclusion to Gathering Blue.  Matty in the opening of Messenger has begun to realize he has the ability to heal the sick and injured and has watched others in his community begin using supernatural powers to trade with others in the community.  However, Matty has noticed that those who trade their powers have changed emotionally and are no longer kind peopleThose who are trading their gifts have also become very vocal about closing their borders so people from the other villages would no longer be welcome.

You come to realize that the leader of this village (who is against closing the borders) is Jonas from The Giver you also realize that The blind Seer that has been looking after Matty is a long lost relative of Kira's from Gathering Blue.  Unfortunately, Messenger doesn't really offer any explanations to how society is in the other two villages.  What happened to the people in the village that Jonas was from once they started to experience emotions?  Does the village that Kira is from still murder parents of talented children so that they become orphaned? What happened to Gabe?  What is Kira doing in the village from Gathering Blue to make them more open to acceptance of those with defects and differences?  Why are those in the village who appear to have powers so against having new people enter their village?

Lowry is a gifted writer but I honestly I just hated how Gathering Blue and Messenger asked more questions then answered.  I felt like I was watching "Lost" all over again. Messenger had a bit more closure than Gathering Blue but I still feel like one should read The Giver then forget the other two novels in this series ever exist.  On their own I think I would have enjoyed them more but the fact they were linked to The Giver really took away from their stories.


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