Friday, February 13, 2015

Son by Lois Lowry

Son is the last book in The Giver quartet, and it closes the story by weaving together the strands of the stories in the previous book so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first three books in this series.  It is highly recommended that you read Messenger and Son after you have read The Giver and Gathering blue, although you can read The Giver and Gathering blue in what ever order you prefer.

Claire is something of a disappointment for the parents who raised her because instead of learning a useful skill to support the community, or go on to learn more about a profession like engineering or law, Claire has become a Birthmother.  Her task for the next few years will be to produce three children for the Community in which she was raised, and then she will go on to complete essential but menial tasks for the Community until she becomes too old to  work.  That was her future, but when her child has to be cut from her body she is instead reassigned to the fish hatchery where she is something of a curiosity through her sudden appearance.  Through a twist of fate Claire knows that her son was child thirty-six in his year, so she has the opportunity to know her son and interact with him - until the fates intervene again and he is spirited away from the Community.

Without any real planning or purpose Claire leaves the Community and finds herself lost in a world where she has no memory of where she was or what she has lost - but she knows she has lost something.  Shipwrecked and lost, Claire is welcomed into the isolated coastal community where she washes ashore.  In this isolated and insular community Claire is a mysterious and desirable stranger, a beautiful prize that is coveted by more than one person - but she keeps them all at a distance.  Having no memory of her past beyond her name, Claire discovers the world through wondering eyes and leaves everyone puzzled about her lack of understanding about the world around her.  As the years pass and her memory returns, Claire must prepare herself to leave the community that has accepted her - she must prepare physically and mentally for the task ahead and the dangers that wait for her above.

Son is the concluding novel in The Giver series, and closes the story arc that started with The Giver and has blended together the other books in the series.  Starting in the Community with the birth of her son, her story meets that of Jonas.  There is a time when we hear nothing but the story of Claire, but then the story leaps into the Village where we pick up the story of Jonas for a second time, along with the story of Kira and Gabriel.  In many ways Son is the most important novel in the series to date, because although The Giver introduces us to Jonas and his Community, it is through Claire's experiences that you truly come to understand what it means to be part of a Community where babies are Products and every moment of your life is planned and controlled.  It is through Claire that we also understand how Gathering blue and Messenger fit into the world.

It took me a while to read Son, but I did find it easy to pick up and put down because there are three very clear sections in the book (just as well considering all the distractions I had while trying to read it).  It is rare for the final book in a series to finish all the storylines of previous novels so completely, but Son does it is a very clever way, using the gaps in time between novels for life to happen naturally and just allowing us to see certain moments.  For some readers it may be a struggle to keep the characters in the series straight, especially if they are reading the story spaced out over a few years - this is one of those series where it really pays to read it from start to finish, moving book to book rather than reading things in between.  On a more personal note I was very relieved to see that Son has a lot more strength and power than Messenger, Lois Lowry definitely redeemed herself here.

Son concludes a series that has some amazing themes and confronting issues, and it says a lot for Lowry's writing ability that these books can be read as fantasy, as drama, or as an example of social control and discovering who you really are.  

If you like this story then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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