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This is a book that almost everyone has already read. I can’t remember what grade I was in when I first read it, but I think it goes without saying that this is a children’s book. Still, it’s a classic. And there’s nothing wrong with rereading classics.
Jonas is a twelve year old boy, living in a community where everything is the same. Everything is peaceful, but there’s no color, no actual feelings, and no choices. At the age of twelve, citizens shed their childhood and get assigned to whatever work is deemed best for them. But Jonas doesn’t get assigned, he gets selected to be the new Receiver of memories, through which he learns about how life was before the “sameness”. He gains knowledge of color and love and warmth, but also pain and death. When he learns that Gabriel, a child that he’s come to love, is going to be released – killed – he escapes.
Ok, before I go on, wanna know what bothers me most about this book? The fact that being assigned as a “Birthmother” is considered the least honorable job. Like, hello?! Giving life is not considered honorable? Really? It bothers me to my core and honestly it boggles my mind when authors do this. Especially female authors. Giving birth is the baddest thing a person could do. Believe me, I would know. But at the same time, it’s nice when a woman’s value isn’t determined by how many sons she can produce. I digress. Anyway, the one other thing that irks me a little is the explanative for lack of love. Everyone simply takes a pill and now supposedly they are cured from the essential thing that makes them human, while they still somehow act human. I understand that this is fantasy, but I just can’t buy it.
Everything else about this book I appreciate. I think the futuristic government is completely realistic, in the sense that this is the kind of utopia/dystopia that is totally feasible. Especially when you compare it to the other YA dystopian novels that are very popular right now, where there’s always one group of people benefiting from the system and another group seriously suffering. (And then of course, usually lead by a seventeen year old female, they predictably rise up and revolutionize. I’m being snarky but I totally read these books haha!) My oldest son is going to be reading this book in school soon, and I can’t wait to talk with him about it. A great book for encouraging young minds to think. 4/5.
I didn’t even know that The Giver has sequels! Since the book is getting new attention due to the release of the movie, I decided to go ahead and keep on reading. In this dystopian novel (set in the same futuristic world as The Giver), Kira was born with a deformed leg. After her mother dies from a strange illness (her father supposedly died before she was born) her fate resides in the council of edifice. She has knowledge though, a special talent for stitching and embroidery, and she learns that she’s not the only one of her kind. She also learns a lot about her village’s dark secrets.
The tone of the story kind of bothered me, right up until the very end, at which point I was actually somewhat satisfied with the reasons. On one hand I’d call this an easy, non challenging read. On the other I’m hesitant to label it a children’s book (despite the young main characters) because of the angry themes, specifically all the violence towards young ones. It felt uncomfortable to read, so I wont be recommending it to my own kids. Like I said though, the ending is good. And I’ll most likely pick up the rest of the sequels at some point (Messenger and Son). 3/5.
Matty is the main character in this book. While I liked him in “Gathering Blue”, I adored him in messenger. He’s likable and well rounded, but he’s still growing and still has flaws which makes him realistic and charming.
The setting of this story is Village, a better place where people care for each other and live in harmony, and ever since Matty (formerly Matt) came to live there, he is better too. And he dreams of becoming the messenger. He lives with Kira’s father, who is blind, and they are growing into an endearing father and son relationship. But something dark is stirring in Village, people are changing and becoming greedy. Also Forest is changing, tuning hostile. These two events are obviously connected, but the author was very vague about the actual problem, or disease, and how it came to Village. I appreciate the moral though, the willingness people often have to trade pieces of themselves to have something, and the corruption that often comes with it. But I found the ending a bit unsatisfying.
SPOILERS! It didn’t jive for me that Matty had to give his live to Forest to cure it and to heal Village. He was such a GOOD character! Of course it was very noble and we still get a happy ending for Kira and everyone else. But he just got a new dog and everything! *pout* END SPOILERS.
Anyhow, I’ll still give it a 3/5, because Matty deserves it.
I think it took this book to get me to enjoy the series. Until recently I wasn’t really giving it much stock, but now that everything has come full circle I find that I can actually appreciate the story as a whole. Just a warning – this review will have some very minor spoilers in it.
The book starts with Claire at about the same place and time frame as “The Giver”. Claire is assigned as a birthmother, but her birthing experience doesn’t go according to plan, and she gets reassigned to the fish hatchery. However, she develops feelings for the baby – or product – that was taken from her, and she finds ways to visit him at the nurturing center and bonds with him. Though she isn’t aware of what’s happening with Jonas, we know because we’ve read “The Giver”.
Then, amongst some very vague chaotic event, Claire escapes on a shipment boat and washes up on the shore of a foreign village. At first she doesn’t remember anything, but bits and pieces come back to her slowly. Eventually she understands that she must leave to find her son. Leaving by sea is not an option for her, so the only other way out of the village is to climb out.
Einar, the one and only person to have made the climb (and is lame because of what happened when he did) offers to help her. It takes years for her to train for the treacherous ordeal, and during that time her and Einar become quite fond of each other. I liked Einar, he really grew on me. It’s an intriguing but sad love story. Because Claire wants to stay with him, but she needs to find her son. Einar wants to go with her, but he physically can’t. And when she finally makes the climb out, she’s greeted by what Einar warned her about. Trademaster. The very same one from “Messenger”, whom villagers traded parts of themselves with.
Without giving away details, I will say that Claire does make a trade to find her son. I would totally agree that this book (the series) has a happy ending. But I personally feel like a few things are missing. First of all I would have loved for Claire and Einar to be reunited somehow. But to be fair I don’t think this is primarily a love story. I’m a sap though. I like my happy ending love stories. Also I kind of wish the original “community” could have gotten revisited. I don’t know if anything would have been gained from that, I just think it would have been fascinating to contrast how much they’ve changed and grown and their old way of life. And to see if/how much the community itself has changed since Jonas left.
This is probably the first book of the series I can actually recommend (besides “The Giver”, I guess), but of course I can’t do that without first recommending the first three 🙂 So yes, I’d say these books are worth reading. A solid 3/5.
3.5/5 for the entire series. Have you read the whole quartet?