Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue (the second book in The Giver Quartet) is about Kira, the two-syllable orphan with a twisted leg, who is spared by the all-powerful Council of Guardians. They want to use her gift of weaving to be the “designer of the future” (179) once she has completed re-threading the Singer’s Robe.
My friend chided me for not continuing to read The Giver Quartet after the first book. I don’t have an excuse for not continuing, especially since I’ve owned this book for years. Anyway….
We meet Kira on her last day in the Field (it’s custom to have someone watch a person’s body for a few days in the Field). One cruel neighbor, Vandara, tries to get her turned out of the village. Luckily, the Council of Guardians rescues Kira and gives her the all-important job of restoring the Singer’s Robe. The Singer sings the history of the world for an entire day every year.
Lowry’s world building was well done. Everyone’s age is indicated by the length of his or her name. Young children have one syllable; older children and teens, two; adults, three; elderly, four. The village itself is full of cruel people, although the Fen is much worse. I love how Lowry explains the customs and behavior of the people.
The characters are great. Kira’s challenges immediately drew me into the story. Her reaction to the hot water in the bathtub was very funny. Matt is a sweetheart. He’s a brave little tyke. Thomas is interesting, but I had to shake my head when some of his explanations of their living situation are completely a result of his programming (he’s been growing up in the Guardians’ care since his name was one syllable). Jamison left me with a feeling that he was a mentor figure, but one should be wary of crossing him. I liked Annabella. I wonder if the rules and herbs for creating dyes in the book works in real life.
It’s obvious fairly early on why this is titled “Gathering Blue.” Their little village does not grow the woad plant necessary to make blue dye. How is she supposed to replace the blue threads if they don’t have the dye for it?
I found it most horrible that Kira, Thomas and Jo aren’t allowed to use their talents for their own creativity. They are just being used to create the futures the Guardians want–they are given images and words to use rather than their divine gifts. This is said well by Jo:
“Over and over. They be making me remember everythings. Me old songs, they just be natural. But now they be stuffing new things into me and this poor head hurts horrid.”
I like Kira’s resolve at the end, but I don’t like her decision. She believes:
“We’re the ones who will fill in the blank spaces. Maybe we can make it different.”
With civilization being so split apart, I was shocked that Kira’s society was not at all like Jonas’. But the difference in their societies doesn’t take away from the series. It makes sense for them to be different, to have different laws, to have different structures, to have different issues. The series is my model to compare the dystopian societies in other novels.
This was a very quick and pleasant read. I loved it. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I recommend this to everyone, but especially those who like reading dystopian novels.
Genres: Dystopian, Children’s Lit
5 Out of 5 Stars