About the series
Series Title: The Giver Quartet
Book Titles: The Giver (1), Gathering Blue (2), Messenger (3), Son (4)
Author: Lois Lowry
Edition: E-Book, 675 pages
Published: Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2014
Original Publication: 1993 Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
My Rating: 4/5
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Blurb for Book One: Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, 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. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
The Giver Quartet is a series of four young adult dystopian novels; The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son. The first book, The Giver was made into a movie in 2014 but I have yet to watch this. I ended up reading the entire series back to back on my Kindle all within a week and a half. For that reason I will be making this a series review, but don't worry, it will remain spoiler free.
After finishing the first book, The Giver, which won the Newbery Award in 1994, I was somewhat underwhelmed. It had a very typical dystopian storyline - a conforming society seemingly "perfect" on the surface but actually harbouring much darker secrets - but for me the plot was felt somewhat incomplete (this would change as I continued reading the series though).
The Giver was no doubt a captivating read and left me wanting to learn more about it's world with every page. Unfortunately my thirst wasn't entirely quenched as I wished Lowry fleshed out some of her characters a bit more, or extended some of the more enthralling scenes. When first being introduced to The Giver character I thought he would be much like Miyagi or Mr. Han from Karate Kid, this all knowing mentor that the audience could admire and foster a loving relationship for. Though I definitely found him to be a unique character he was quickly forgotten amongst all the other mystery present in the book and I hardly thought about him at all for the rest of the series. Don't get me wrong, he definitely was a crucial character for the rest of the series to kick off on, but I wish there would have been a greater opportunity for readers to connect with him. In my opinion there was nothing in The Giver that really set the book apart from any other YA dystopian I've read. (I should mention here that The Giver was published before dystopian literature became a popular trend, and during it's original publication it was considered to be an avant-garde text, in no way am I discrediting this literary achievement but in comparison to YA dystopian today, some readers that are "desensitized" to the dystopian conventions, myself included, may be somewhat disappointed by this modern classic.) As a book alone, I would have given it a rating of 3/5 stars. It was interesting enough and ended on a very open and suspenseful cliffhanger so I pressed on with the series.
From the second book onwards, things really started to pick up. The world Lowry created was much larger than I imagined. The remaining three books each followed a different, but equally as amazing characters, each solving their own mysteries and embarking on epic adventures. Having these colourful lives and stories intertwine and overlap over the course of four books was so much fun to read. I don't want to delve into too much detail regarding these characters or storylines as I definitely think they'd be even more amazing if you simply entered in blindly after reading The Giver. On top of that I would actually recommend reading these books back to back, I feel as though if you waited too long between them you would definitely feel lost and no longer as attached to the characters. For example, having the story of a side character in book one fleshed out in the final book and still being able to remember everything about that side character in the beginning really added to the character's development and my personal enjoyment.
I believe these books had potential to be much longer, there was so many things to explore and so much I was itching to find out about. Some of these loose ends or mysteries introduced in the first book were actually only given full closure in the final book. At times this was frustrating but by the time I read the fourth book, and everything came together, it blew me away and was definitely worth the wait. There were some side characters that I wish I knew the fate of, but unfortunately the remainder of their lives will always remain a mystery. Though the fourth and final book was flooded with eureka moments, I did find it much more choppy than previous novels. It just didn't flow as nicely. There was a very creepy antagonist (one that had not been clearly fleshed out in previous books) that made for some thrilling scenes but some parts, especially the ending, felt rushed and quite underwhelming, given the build up from previous books.
Despite the first book seeming like just another average dystopian, the sequels in The Giver Quartet added layer upon layer of depth to the universe, enticing mystery, loveable characters and brilliant settings. Though there were a few minor loose ends that were left to the reader's imagination, and a somewhat underwhelming finish Lowry has done a fantastic job in creating a rich and detailed world for readers to enjoy. I would recommend The Giver Quartet to fans of YA series interested in a more classic dystopian or adventure novel that takes place in a layered world for them to explore. If you are planning to read The Giver, definitely commit to the entire series, it's worth it!