Review: Gathering Blue

I recently reread The Giver, and then realized it was part of a quartet (which was not the case when I read it in middle school). I loved that book, and figured, why not see where it went after that? So, I dropped Gathering Blue onto my kindle app where it gathered digital dust for a few months while I finished some other books. And then finally I read it. I would totally read this series with my nephews when they are older if they want to, but for myself, I am going to let it go.

Lowry maintains her simple, accessible style which matches the “simple” culture in which these stories take place. Where The Giver used the simplicity to open to a world of depth, Gathering Blue only hints at that depth and only in a fairly obvious way. I might have liked this as a pre-teen, but reading this book as an adult and without the nostalgia I have for The Giver, I was simply disappointed.

One reason is that the secrets, what is happening behind the curtain, are “hinted” at with neon signs that spell “Get It?!” and flash a bright red arrow at what you are supposed to pick up. I love a book that makes me feel smart and clever for figuring out what is actually going on before the characters do, but Lowry’s writing goes beyond this so that you don’t feel clever; you would just feel stupid for not seeing it.

The plot also is not self-contained like The Giver was. This approach would be perfectly okay, but the entire book felt like exposition for the real action which is going to happen in the next book (or maybe even the book after that; it was so slow, y’all). The characters aren’t challenged. They aren’t that complicated. They barely struggle with decisions that would seem to be incredibly important ones, and we are not given insight into why it is so easy.

Lowry was so good in The Giver at not treating her YA audience as if their youth somehow made them incapable of engaging with challenging material and difficult decisions and hard choices. That is nearly lost in this book.

Has anyone read the rest of the quartet? Am I being too hasty in deciding not to read the last two books? What are your thoughts on The Giver or on Gathering Blue?

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