Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Giver; Gathering Blue; Messenger

Several weeks ago Sarah, Joan, and I read The Giver as a part of their literature survey for this year.

I was pleased with the ending, but hoped Lois Lowry had written more - finished the story in another book, maybe. So I got Gathering Blue which I heard was a "kind of" sequel. Read it the afternoon it arrived, then wished desperately that I had the next book she wrote, which I heard tied the first two together.

Messenger arrived yesterday and I read it last night.

I haven't read much YA fiction lately, so to say that these are the best YA books I've read recently wouldn't be saying much. Instead, I have to say these are some of the best books of any type I've enjoyed this year.

I've seen them all described as dystopian literature, but I think that The Giver seemed more anti-Utopia than dystopia. The society in that story seemed almost perfect, if somewhat bland. In fact, the desire for sameness and an emotionless, flat-line life by the people of that society seemed to parallel our modern obsession for everyone to excel, to be the best at something - anything. And the therapeutic activities and events seemed to scream "group hug!"

On the other hand, the society pictured in Gathering Blue was more of what I'd consider a dystopia. Sickness and those with defects were eradicated by drastic and primitive means. The people were superstitious and suspicious, and every man looked out for himself.

Finally, Messenger seemed like a classic fantasy novel, with nature taking on a life of its own, purposely harming the people on their way to or from Village. Also in this book was a clear redemptive story - Matty gives his life to save the people of Village, and at the same time he redeeems Forest from the malevolent force it had become.

All three of these books are great - perhaps only The Giver on its own. The other two might not have been as riveting if I'd not read the first one.
(Interesting tidbit: Lois Lowry enjoys photography as a hobby and she did the photos for the cover art of all three books.)

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Blogger Dana in Georgia said...

While I enjoyed your reviews, I am not yet convinced to pick up Lois Lowery. Any more reasons I should move her up on my list?

6:47 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

The only book by her that I'd read before now was Number the Stars. While I found it readable, it didn't leave me with any desire to read more books by her either.

Frankly, Dana, if I had not HAD to read The Giver in order to discuss it with my daughters, I would not have picked it up.

If you have read and been provoked to thought by other "dystopian" books such as Fahrenheit 451, 1984,This Perfect Day, Blade Runner, Brave New World, and other similar books, you might find this one a good addition to the mix. Certainly Lowry did a good job of making this society seem like a truly perfect one. The bad elements are bad in a smoothly, gentle way... .

8:01 AM  
Blogger Dana in Georgia said...

Gotcha! I will pass on dystopian. Didnt realize you were reading it *for school*

11:50 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

But I'm very glad I *did* read these books, and they're my latest reading recommendation to everyone I know!

12:42 PM  
Blogger Jeannine said...

I read The Giver a few years ago and I really liked it. It spurred me on along those lines and I then read 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. I think Ayn Rand has a book that is dystopian too only I can't remember the name of it.

I'll check out Gathering Blue and Messenger from my library and read them. Thanks for the recommendation. :-)

10:13 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jeannine, I think the Ayn Rand book is Anthem. I read it years ago and can barely remember it.

I'm so glad to know you enjoyed The Giver, too!

10:56 PM  
Blogger Framed said...

Interesting review. I read "The Giver" several years ago and didn't like it too much. I've decided that was because of the book group I read it for. But after reading your review, I see that I need to read it again before I tackle the next two.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read The Giver last year, a book I picked up at a sale. I was familiar with Lowry, but unfamiliar with the title.

I distinctly remember saying to my husband, "This book is either really dumb or incredibly brilliant, and I can't decide which one yet."

I found myself distracted, trying to discern what her telos was, where she was headed with the story.

I'm interested to know about Gathering Blue and Messenger. The Giver left me dangling...

9:56 AM  
Blogger Nikki in Niagara said...

I read all three of these this year too, and enjoyed them.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Cinnamon said...

I complete agree with you! - "All three of these books are great - perhaps only The Giver on its own. The other two might not have been as riveting if I'd not read the first one."

I read all three summer before last and thoroughly enjoyed them. The Giver was definitely the best, but together the three make a compelling tale.

12:26 PM  
Blogger 1morechapter said...

I read all three this year and loved them. I really like Lowry.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great review - it is nice to see them all compared like this. I've have to pick up Gathering Blue and Messenger soon.

3:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lois lowry is amazing. The author connects these 3 books in such a magnificient way. i admire lois and all the lois has done for the fans

12:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I read the Giver and I am looking forward to reading messenger and gathering bue

8:23 PM  

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