Son

Son should have been the first sequel to the Giver. It actually starts in the same community as the Giver, this time with Gabriel’s birthmother Claire. We follow her life: first in the community, then in a small seaside village, and finally in the same village where Jonas and Gabriel ended up.

It’s a really interesting story and I particularly like how each of the sections builds on what came before, while letting us watch Claire grow and change. The links to Gathering Blue and Messenger are there as well, although I personally wish they’d been ordered a little differently.

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Messenger

I’m not entirely sure what the point of Messenger was. It wasn’t a particularly bad book, just not hugely interesting, especially compared to The Giver or Gathering Blue.

A direct sequel to Gathering Blue, Messenger only had very little to do with The Giver. Technically Leader is Jonas, but there’s nothing in particular to say that he had to be. He can see beyond (which apparently means far more than it ever did in The Giver), but that’s about it. I think I would have liked Messenger a bit more had it just been the second book in a trilogy or if I’d never seen the series label on Goodreads–although chances are I wouldn’t have even read it had that been the case…

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Gathering Blue

With two caveats, Gathering Blue is quite an enjoyable novel. I actually think that I liked it more than the Giver. The world is interesting, the characters and world are just different enough from our own to get one’s attention while still being believable enough, and there is enough mystery and tension to pull you through the book.

Which brings up caveat the first: This doesn’t feel like a standalone story. You just keep getting pulled through the story, there’s a big twist at the end, and then… nothing. It just sort of ends, right when things are about to get interesting. The Giver did this too, to a lesser extent, but there we learned most of the secrets the world was hiding so the end felt justified. Here, it feels like the first novel of a planned series, which is vaguely annoying.

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The Giver

I first read the Giver a dozen or more years ago now for a class. I’ve re-read it a few times since then and even watched the recent movie (Jeff Bridges makes an excellent Giver, but other than that it’s just … not good). In all of these readings, I never quite got around to reading the sequels. I guess it’s about time to give them a try.

In a nutshell, The Giver takes place in what feels like any of a dozen other young adult nearish future dystopias (The Giver being among if not the progenitor of the genre), where everyone knows their place everything is perfect. Except… not really. In The Giver’s particular interpretation, everyone is assigned their job at the age of 12.

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