fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSon by Lois Lowry Son by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry is the fourth and final book in THE GIVER series. I’ve had serious problems with previous installments in this series, and unfortunately this book does little to nothing to resolve those problems. My main issues have been that there is no source or explanation given for the mystical gifts that very few of the people possess, and that there is no explanation for the evil force that pervaded Forest in the last book.

Son starts back in the first community in the series. Clare has been chosen to be a Vessel, or a birthmother as they were called in the first book. When her first delivery goes wrong, she is reassigned to work in the fish hatchery. However, she can’t forget her baby. She starts volunteering in the nursery, and eventually discovers which child is hers. When the baby is transferred to another community, she swears she is going to track him down and runs away on one of the delivery boats.

And then there’s a middle section of the book where she lives in a fishing village for several years. I’m really not even sure what the point of this section was. That she’s never seen a chipmunk? That they aren’t taught the names for colors back in the original village (which is presented differently than it was in the first book, where it seemed as if people all saw in greyscale, which made Jonas actually seeing red so revolutionary, but now it just seems they aren’t given words for them)? She does fall in love with Einar in this section, but he teaches her how to be strong enough to climb the cliffs surrounding the village, so she does, and leaves him. Also, I think we would be seeing serious inbreeding problems in a village this isolated that is this small and has apparently been here for hundreds of years, but there is no evidence of that. The only reason I can see for the second section is to make Clare’s overwhelming dedication to finding her son even more obvious, and to have her be so physically fit that the contrast between who she is at the end of the second section and who she is in the third section is more stark.

And then we get to the third section. It has major plot problems which you can read about here, if you want, by highlighting the following spoilers: Okay, seriously, you have personified Evil as the bad guy? Doesn’t that seem a little… simplistic? How does Evil become a person with whom you can interact? And if Evil is a person, are there other attributes walking around as well? And how does Evil have magical powers? And then we beat the personification of evil by telling him that some of his evil plans didn’t come to fruition. If he’s been watching the village for so long, wouldn’t he have known that? I mean, Matty died in the last book defeating all of the evil, but apparently not this Evil, and I just give up. You think he would have noticed by now that there was a huge setback to his evil plans. I mean seriously, I read the last chapter, and literally was shaking my head in disbelief that this was how she was going to end the series. And again, no explanation for the gifts – they just show up around puberty it seems, and then fade away when you get middle aged. [END SPOILERS]

My suggestion is to read the first and possibly second book in the GIVER series. Really though, just read the first, The Giver. Lowry writes really interesting worlds and charismatic characters, which only slightly makes up for the fact that the plot really doesn’t make any sense at all.

Giver — (1993-2012) Publisher: Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does Jonas begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

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  • Ruth Arnell

    RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.