Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.
How I Read It: Print
Dates Read: 9/13/20-9/24/20
How I Found It: High School English
I am so excited to finally be reading the entire series. Many moons ago, at the ripe old age of 14, I had to read The Giver for my freshman English class. At some point while I was in college, I had discovered that the book I loved from my English class was really the first in a four book series. For years, I have always said “I will get to it eventually”, and I think it is about time that I do just that. So I’m buckled in, let’s see what these books have to offer!
Side note: Books one and two can be treated as independent works. Books 3 and 4 depend on the information/ characters from the first two books. Unlike most series posts, I will be making a rating for each book individually, and an overall rating of the series at the end.
Set in a small community, Jonas is about to turn Twelve. Within this community, the first 12 years of life bring a new achievement into the path of independence, with Twelve being the age of earning a job. Jonas is given the job of Receiver, known as the most important and private job in the community. As The Receiver, Jonas has to be given the memories of the communities before this one, which includes the happy memories and the sad ones. But when Jonas learns of the atrocities that occur in this community that no one talks about, Jonas and the former receiver, known as The Giver, come up with a plan to escape the community and begin life anew.
I normally don’t do this, but I wanted to talk about this book specifically before I start reading the other books in the series. As mentioned before, this book was a requirement for my 9th grade English requirement. And other than talking about Utopian/Dystopian themes, I don’t remember a whole lot about what we talked about with this book. But for people who were never forced to read this book, there are themes of sameness/uniqueness, governmental control, and “ignorance is bliss” to name a few. There are a lot of things that as a society we are dealing with, and I don’t think that it would be a stretch to say that this book shows you aspects of what would happen if we went into a state of complete control.
This book won a Newbery Medal for its contribution to children’s literature. It was also adapted for film in 2014, which I will not be reviewing. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
We begin the book on Kira, a young crippled girl who has just lost her mother to an illness. Now an orphan, Kira finds herself begging the Council to let her stay in the town. They decide to keep her in a living quarters in the Council of Guardians (essentially a town hall) where she would work as an embroiderer. Every year they have a big celebration where a singer would sing the town’s history for hours, with the cloak he wears being a mural of the history, and the staff he stands with being a reminder of the parts of the story so he wouldn’t get lost in the song. With Kira the future for the robe, Thomas the future of the staff, and Jo the future of the song, the young children discover the dark pasts of the town, and how they ended up in this position.
I personally don’t think that this book is as good as The Giver (which might be more nostalgia than anything else), but I do think that it is very good, so I will be giving it a 4 out of 5 star rating.
Matty now lives in the Village, but works as a messenger for the Leader (Jonas from The Giver). When dark trades start to occur, the people within the Village start to change, including the selfish notion of closing their borders to refugees. The Leader sends Matty to put up signs to warn travelers that they cannot enter the Village, and the Seer (Kira’s dad), asks Matty to bring Kira back to the Village before the borders close. In order to get to Kira’s town from the Village, Matty must pass through the Forest, which is getting thicker and more dangerous. Quickly things become more treacherous, and Kira and Matty have to push themselves through obstacles, and I’m really struggling to make the open-ended “will they make it” statement, but uh… will they make it?
Compared to the other 2 books, I think that this is the saddest one. It is also the shortest one. I do not think it was anywhere near as good as the first two books, so I will give it 3 out of 5 stars.
There is a lot that happens in this last book, so bear with me on this synopsis. So we start with Claire, after she gives birth to a son, whom we later learn is Gabriel (I’m realizing now that I didn’t list Gabriel in The Giver synopsis, but he was the baby from that book, and he’s really important for this book, so heads up on that). Anyway, as a Birthmother, Claire isn’t supposed to have any contact with Gabriel after he is born. But after a complicated delivery, Claire is no longer able to give birth, forcing her to go into another job. Anyway, some stuff happens, Jonas disappears with Gabriel, and Claire, heartbroken, leaves on a boat.
Flash forward a bit, Claire wakes up on a beach in a small village. She has no memories and she has no understanding of the world. As she slowly understands the world, she remembers her son and the pain of losing him. She decides to leave the village to go find him, but that journey came at a price. She met the Trademaster, who took her youth in order to take her to her son. And that leads to the final part of the book, which I won’t describe here.
This book is approximately the length of the first 3 books combined. And despite its length, I think that is is more a wrap-up than an individual book. But I’m at a conundrum here. I personally don’t think this book is bad (and I think that it is better than Messenger), but I don’t particularly like the rating I’m about to give. I’ll give it a generous 3.5 out of 5 stars, purely based on the rating on the other books.
The Giver Quartet
I really enjoyed The Giver and Gathering Blue. I don’t think that they needed to be connected. With that being said, I enjoyed Son. And with all that being said, I don’t necessarily think that Messenger was a bad book, but it was slightly purposeless. I personally would have loved a collection of stories, including The Giver, Gathering Blue, and the story of Claire when she tries to leave the seaside village. It felt forced that these stories were interwoven this way. I think that as a series, I would give it 3 out of 5 stars (though I think that might be slightly generous).
If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!