If The Giver blew your mind, it may further blow your mind to know that The Giver has sequels. As if the journey of twelve-year-old Jonas through the frightening truth about his seemingly perfect world weren’t enough, Lois Lowry has spun another tale. The Giver presented a futuristic world with no choices and an oligarchy enforcing “Sameness” to create a better world, but one with sinister secrets. There are indications, though, that Jonas’s community is not the only one. What about everyone else?
In Gathering Blue, we find out what is going on in the world beyond. We meet teenage Kira after her mother has died of an unexpected illness. Although Jonas was anxious about what his leaders would choose for his future, Kira doesn’t even know if she has a future. She is orphaned, her father having been reported dead before her birth, and she has a severe physical disability that leaves her unable to do common work and undesirable as a wife and mother. In her primitive world, the leaders may well leave her for the beasts to take away. She is surprised to find that her leaders have a special plan for her: to use her mysterious gift at weaving colors to repair the garment that tells a pictorial history of the world. She will repair the colorful strands woven into myriad shapes and swirls of green, red, and—if she only had the right plants to make it—blue. Like Jonas, however, Kira has a hint that all is not well in her world. Like Jonas’s, her truth is terrifying, but there is a glimmer of hope.
Caution: Spoiler for The Giver ahead. Also, why haven’t you read it yet?
Once you have finished The Giver, you know that controlling a world as carefully as the leaders do requires not only the elimination of all free choice, but also a strict system of euthanasia for those who do not or will not conform. If you won’t be like everyone else is, or you won’t do as you’re told, you don’t deserve to live. In Gathering Blue, people are only valuable for their usefulness. Kira is only alive because her mother and grandfather fought for her to have a chance. Our world carries similar utilitarian undertones, and Kira reminds us that it is the gathering of different people that makes our world complete.
Some readers have remarked that they expected a sequel to The Giver to be a continuation of Jonas’s story. That’s not this book. As Lowry herself remarked in an interview given between the publication of Gathering Blue and Messenger, there is a reference to a boy with a two-syllable name and light eyes at the end of Gathering Blue. If you want him to be Jonas, he can be. If your interpretation of the The Giver‘s ending was rather more grim, then he’s not Jonas. Gathering Blue presents not a continuation, but another twist on the worlds Lowry builds. Messenger has yet another thread to the story, and the soon-to-be-released Son will bring them all together.
If you’re looking for more about Jonas, Gathering Blue will disappoint you. If you have a sneaking suspicion that maybe the future won’t necessarily be bright and shiny like The Jetsons, that maybe memory is important in more than one way, and that love must be our guiding force, Gathering Blue shares your vision.
Up next: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s best-known novel, where the world is not quite so “new” compared to these days