But also, I don’t really get what just happened, nor do I totally think this is a book that should have been published. Also, there might be spoiler-ish tidbits in here, but I don’t really think they are significant. And anyway, this book needs no reviews, because no matter how much it deserves criticism like any other book, it was a bestseller long before it was published, and it will continue to be.
First, none of the “sequels” to The Giver are actually very good; they’re just decent. They all read as strange, and forcing them into the world of The Giver seems to limit them rather than serve as a fountain for drawing creativity.
But there are also a lot of actual problems with Son as a book, not just with it as it relates to the other books in this weird quartet. First, whoever came up with the tagline for it, “The thrilling conclusion to The Giver,” is cray cray, because this book is not a thriller. It’s a muser. That doesn’t make it bad, but you know me and how I like words to be used correctly. Keeps you on the edge of your seat it does not.
First thing about this book: language patterns. Inconsistent. Even when you take into account that different parts of this book take place in different communities, within the community the language patterns and dialects feel like they change from stylized to current speech, and the part that takes place in Jonas’ community doesn’t feel like it did in The Giver, even though it takes place simultaneously with his story. Then the village at the end feels off and strange, and in the middle, I’m not sure why we had to go to Scotland instead of another made-up place.
Second: this book is therapy. It is GREAT to write to deal with feelings, to cope with loss, as Lowry has had to. But that doesn’t mean you should publish it. If you can turn grief into something substantial, that’s nice, but if not, you should keep the writing for yourself. This book is very, very much a book that is clearly writing therapy, and so it reads as too self-indulgent for a novel for the masses. Especially the thing with the loss of Claire’s youth.
Third: the plot is uninteresting. I really did not care about it after part one (it’s divided into three) and didn’t find the middle section compelling enough to be as long as it was. It was like a non-romantic “Tristan and Isolde” (at least the James Franco movie version), and all it functioned as was a long, roundabout way for Claire to regain her memory that was lost for no apparent reason and to give her time to grieve since, as I mentioned, the book is a grief journal for the author.
I have to say, I did enjoy seeing Jonas grown up, and having reread The Giver recently enough, I did think his characterization was true to his younger self. I didn’t really need to see him grown up because the ending of his book is fine, but at least he’s still himself.
Read it, if you must, because I know you will anyway. Like I said, it’s actually not bad, and you will want to keep reading. But it’s wanting. And it’s unnecessary.