Pros: strong characters, unique society, what Jonas is given
Cons: some disturbing aspects of the society
I recently read Gathering Blue not realizing it was the second in a trilogy. So I borrowed the first book, The Giver, on my kindle so I could then read the third book in the trilogy. The characters are not the same, so I'd say you could easily read this book or the second book in either order, prior to reading the last in the series.
This story takes place in a dystopian future world. Families are created by a male and female adult who place a request for a child. Everything is the same. The ground is level, everything is the same color, the weather is always the same. Everyone turns a year older on the same day each year. And when you turn twelve you are given your job assignment, while you do continue to go to school.
The star of this book, Jonas, is almost twelve and he has volunteered at various jobs but doesn't feel he is a shoe-in for any particular job. When the ceremony takes place to announce jobs he discovers he will be the town's Receiver, who is the person who keeps all the memories of the past and helps the council make decisions. He is very disappointed with this as he will be very secluded in his 'work place'.
When he finds out what his job entails, and how it works by the current Receiver physically giving him all his memories (and thus becoming the Giver), he learns things that make him very unhappy with the current situation in which he lives. He understands what love and happiness truly can be and begins to realize both, along with all strong emotions, are severely lacking in his current society. What will he do?
This is a very unique storyline to me. Author Lois Lowry creates a fascinating world, that was really rather sad at many levels. While the book was written almost 20 years ago it still resonates now since it's an odd future world. There is a little bit of a magic feel to the book, but nothing over the top and it's not used a cop out to explain something. There are some things that are disturbing (how they deal with people who are no longer wanted), but they fit into the story, adding to the reader's understanding of life in this society.
I liked the characters and I liked the story. It makes you think and you want to find out what happens to Jonas. The end of the story does leave you hanging a bit. But some of your questions are answered in the third book at least. I'd definitely recommend this book to children ages 11 and up. It is very well written and I found the story very interesting.