I think if I could do just one thing for the rest of my life, it would be reading books. All the time. For forever.
I’ve really been powering through books recently because it’s summer and free time is abundant. I set myself a goal to read 52 new books this year, and so far I’m at 18. (I should be on book #29 in order to meet my goal by December 31st. Maybe I’ll make it…) Not only am I (usually) entertained by the stories, but I am also able to learn things about good writing as well. Most successful authors say that in order to become a great writer you have to do two things: write constantly and read when you are not writing. The idea is that reading teaches you what good writing looks like in context. I have found this to be true.
So not only am I reading for pleasure, I am also reading to learn. Thinking about it that way makes me feel a little bit better for reading straight through a book in one sitting and neglecting less important things like…laundry. Ahem. I’m bad at segues, so to format my review, I’ll include the book blurb from Goodreads, my lasting thought, and what I learned as a writer from the book.
SON — Lois Lowry || 4/5 stars
Goodreads Blurb: 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.
Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.
My thoughts: The Giver is one of my all-time favorite books. It is a very thought-provoking commentary on the importance of feeling and remembering, even when it causes pain. The Giver has an open ending, and Lowry’s first intention was for it to stand alone. However, she did write an additional three books to follow it. That being said, Son was a decent conclusion that did answer some questions, but I feel like there were too many holes in Lowry’s world-building attempts to answer all questions as completely as I wanted. She never really attempts to give answers to questions like “What happened to make Jonas’ original village that way? Why aren’t other villages like it? Why don’t the villages communicate? Why are some more advanced than others?” and so on, and I think that part of this is because she does not know herself. Regardless, I’d recommend Son to readers who loved The Giver and would like to know what happens to Jonas and Gabriel. However, don’t expect it to be The Giver‘s equal.
What I learned from the book: Lowry separates the book into three sections: Before, Between, and Beyond. This brought clarity and focus to each part of Claire’s life, but I disliked that at times it was like I was reading an entirely different book from the one I started with. The section ‘Before’ had the strongest story line, probably because it was The Giver told from Claire’s perspective. ‘Beyond’ was disappointing to me, with a very anti-climatic and improbable conclusion. The section entitled ‘Between,’ however, was my favorite and beautifully written, and the reason why I gave the book four stars instead of three. Lowry’s command of language to create tone is masterful. She describes the village from the section ‘Between’ in this way:
The village nestled at the foot of a forbidding cliff in the curved elbow of an arm of land. The peninsula jutted out from the main coast in an isolated place where time didn’t matter, for nothing changed. No newcomers had ever appeared, not in anyone’s memory, and only an occasional discontented man had climbed out (for that was what they called the leaving) or tried to.
As I was reading that, I could see the coast line, hear the waves breaking on the shore, and feel the quiet content with which the villagers lived. Reading ‘Between’ made me nostalgic for the years when time didn’t matter for me. I loved that Lowry was able to create such a specific mood and feel with her words. It pays to spend careful thought on word choice.
And then of course, there was the whole issue with world building. Successfully creating a realistic and convincing world from scratch is hard. Like, I-don’t-know-that-I-ever-want-to-try-it hard. In order to escape the problem of there being holes in the world, there is so much thought that has to go into everything. I’m not sure how you could keep so much information organized and accessible as you write. Still, seeing the less polished places in Lowry’s writing serves a lesson. It’s something to remember, that if you don’t know what’s going on, it’s going to translate into your writing, and your reader will be able to tell.
In conclusion, I would recommend The Giver quartet, especially the first book, The Giver. Next review is going to be a book called Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Spoilers: I cried.
Have you read any of The Giver quartet? What have you been reading recently? Let me know in the comments.