"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

Typically I make a point to review each individual book in a series because, as we've all experienced, not all installments are created equally. This time separating the individual books in the quartet seemed to give the wrong idea about the group as a whole. As a quartet, I rated it a 3 but given the chance I would have given it a 3.5. 

I really enjoyed the first one, The Giver. On its own I rated it a 4. These are written for middle-school and junior high-aged kids but reading them as an adult gave me a different perspective than I had as a kid. I was fascinated by the world Lois Lowry created and even more intrigued when I read the note to readers in the back of the book. The ending provides readers the opportunity to speculate on where Jonas ends up and I was delighted by the varying ideas fellow readers had about how it ended. I was so intrigued by this first book, I immediately started the second one. 

Gathering Blue was my least favorite book in the group. On its own I gave it a 2.5. It seemed so completely unrelated to The Giver I couldn't see how it tied in at all. There were so few story elements to celebrate in Gathering Blue it was difficult not to find the whole thing too depressing to continue with. It takes place in a dismal place of hardship and disappointment and I felt sorry for the characters stuck there. It was my curiosity about how these stories could possibly be related that kept me reading into the next one. 

I'm glad I continued with Messenger because it was then that a few things began to come together and I was able to start making connections between the first two installments and this third one. On its own I rated it a 3.5. Even though I enjoyed the tying in of the first two novels, the momentum of The Giver is still not recovered in Messenger. The quartet officially becomes what a reviewer I admire calls an "eat-your-vegetables-book". It's good for you to read but not always necessarily pleasant during consumption. Still, I had to know how the four books would come together full circle... 

This brought me to the final installment, Son, which I rated a 3. I was completely engrossed in the first 25% of Son. At last, all things were coming together and I could finally begin to speculate on where everyone ended up! Through the middle Lowry loses the momentum again and I had to wait until the final 25% to get it back. That's not to say that I wasn't still interested because I certainly was but the story moves at a slower pace and I couldn't help but wonder if I was ever going to find out how it all coincided. The quartet ends well with most of my questions answered and I was glad to have experienced all of the novels one right after the next. If I hadn't been able to continue through all four of them without waiting for the next to be published, I'm not sure I would have read them all. I think reading all four of them and discussing them all at once would make for a fabulous book club discussion because it's difficult to completely value one without the support of the others. I'm looking forward to catching up with my friends who decided to read them all with me. 

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17234575-the-giver-quartet?from_search=true.

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