Thursday, January 24, 2013

Son by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry
Release Date:
October 2, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Source: BEA in exchange for an honest review

Summary

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive?  She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

My all time favorite childhood book is The Giver. I read it in 8th grade, a year or two after it was published, and was blown away. It was the first utopian dystopian (probably the first dystopian) that I'd ever read. I was taken in by the perfectness of Jonas's world and disturbed as the seedy underbelly of the society was revealed. I was thrilled when Lois Lowry chose to follow up The Giver with Gathering Blue and The Messenger. Now we have Son, the final book in The Giver series..


Son is the first follow-up book to take us back to Jonas's world. Claire is the birthmother of Gabriel, the baby that Jonas tries to save in The Giver. I loved reading about Jonas's world (I'm not sure what else to call it) from a different perspective. As a Vessel or birthmother, Claire did not have the privileged position that Jonas had. It was also fun to get the perspective of a slightly older character than Jonas. There was less family interaction than there was peer interaction.

Most of the book takes place when Claire escapes from Jonas's world. This disappointed me a little, because Jonas's world was the most interesting setting but I understand that it had to take a back seat to the plot. Claire searches to the ends of the earth for her son. In doing so, she encounters the characters from The GiverGathering Blue, and from Messenger. Her path is long and fraught with danger and sadness.

Claire is an enticing character. She starts off the novel as sweetly naive. Doing what she's told because she's never had the need to question anything. But when she understands that as a Vessel, she gave birth to a son - a son who is slated to be killed - she changes radically. Claire is steadfast and strong. She is the type who never makes waves, but quietly stands firm until she accomplishes her goal. I greatly respected her willingness to do whatever it took to reach her son.

Son is classified as a children's book because of The Giver. Like The Giver, it is a mixture of a fantasy and a dystopia. But I think the book should be classified as an adult novel. It is very dark and very depressing. Where The Giver eases you into the dangers lurking underneath Jonas's idyllic society, Son fairly quickly drops you off a cliff into despair. Claire's sadness and the trials she undergoes in the search for Gabriel is probably more than I could have handled as a preteen or young teen. Frankly, it was almost more than I could handle now.

To put the book in context, The Giver was published in 1993. In 1995, Lowry's son died in a plane crash. When I learned that, the book made so much sense. Son - whether consciously or unconsciously - is more about Lowry trying to "find" her son, trying to come to terms with his death than it is about Claire and Gabriel. Knowing the events of Lowry's life make this book even sadder but beautiful as well.

Son is a poignant, bittersweet yet ultimately redeeming novel about love, loss, acceptance, personal growth, and happiness. It is far more disturbing than The Giver. Unlike The Giver, I don't see myself re-reading this book, but in a lot of ways it is more meaningful. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loved The Giver.

*Don't read it if you haven't read The Giver first. Ideally read Gathering Blue and Messenger before reading Son, but it's not as important.

Rating: 4 / 5

19 comments:

  1. Oh wow.. this book was so not on my radar. Maybe also due to the quite uninteresting cover. Also. I haven't read all the books you mentioned so it seems like this is a no go for me. Still, it does sound like a great read and I'm all for emotions! I'm a little scared at the bittersweet aspect :)

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  2. I know this has been out for a little while. I just read The Giver and found it very disturbing. I'm not sure if I want to continue with the series or not. Thanks for the review. It gave me something to think about.

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  3. I adored GIVER -- so different and intriguing and I actually liked that we didn't *really* know what happened at the end. Because of this, I've been reluctant to pick up the others set in this world and, even though you 4-starred it, I don't know if I can quite handle it, emotionally. I can definitely see how it would be more of an adult novel, too.

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  4. I haven't read the Giver in years. I'm going to have to reread it before I read Son. I just remember the ending getting me very upset.

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  5. I'm sooooo excited to read this book because the Giver is my favorite book EVER. Thanks for the great review, I'll definitely be reading this one out of my TBR pile next!

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  6. Guilty confession: I read the first and last couple of chapters of this in the bookstore, so I know most of what happens plot-wise. I loved the Giver, but the size of Son is so daunting compared to her other books.

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  7. I read The Giver in 8th grade, too! I really loved it and yet somehow I didn't know there were follow-ups to it! :o Now I must check Son and the others out!

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  8. I read The Giver for the first time a couple of years ago for Banned Books Week and had no idea about the "non-ending". I have to say that it left me disappointed and hanging. I read Gathering Blue but for some reason that book didn't affect me as much. I think I should reread all three before tackling this one. Glad you enjoyed it despite how dark it is.

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  9. I also read The Giver in 8th grade! I've been putting off reading this, because I'm so afraid it will not live up to my book memory of The Giver, but it sounds as if I need to just get over my fear and read it. While I'm not looking forward to the disturbing and devastating parts, I'm definitely ready for another thought-provoking Lowry read. Amazing review!

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  10. I read The Giver and loved it; not in 8th grade though :-) but last year.

    Ah! I have to find time to read the other two.

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  11. I can imagine what you mean about the darkness of this story. I've heard mixed opinions on this book and haven't picked it up myself, but it seems like it'll be a bit depressing!

    Interview with a Vampire was an allegory of loss about Anne Rice's lost daughter (and her lost faith), and that was an amazing book...books about loss can be moving, even if they are depressing.

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  12. Woah, this sounds like an intense book. Hmm, I may have to pick this book up.

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  13. I think this actually looks like a pretty good book. Since I have to wait until March til "Stelladaur: Finding Tir Na Nog" by S. L. Whyte (which by the way has one of the most beautiful covers I have seen in a long time) comes out, I think I will check it out. Thank you for recommending it.

    http://www.stelladaur.com/

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  14. You're the second person I've heard that said this book should be classified as an adult book because of the themes. Very interesting.

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  15. Fascinating. I had no idea the series continued after Gathering Blue and Messenger. This sounds like a really dark continuation of the series (can't imagine reading it in 8th grade like we did The Giver), but my interest is piqued.

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  16. I didn't read The Giver until college, and then read Gathering Blue almost immediately after. I haven't read the next to yet, but like so many others, they're ones I'd really love to.

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  17. I just barely read The Giver, so I'm excited to get to this one, even though it's going to be a sad read

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  18. Ooh! I didn't know there was another book after the last 2, I only read The Giver last year so I'm keen to follow up with these books :)

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  19. Very interesting post. really informative. of all the blogs I have read the same topic, this one is actually enlightening.
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