There was nothing worse in school than being forced to read. Ironic, huh? You’d think that would be my favorite part! And I did prefer English, way more than Math. But to be honest, I hated most of the books that were required reading. I’ve figured out, now that I’m out of school, that the reason I hated those books so much was because I had to read a little at a time. One chapter every couple of days? I read a book a day! Breaking the books down in those little pieces made me lose so much of the story.
The book I hated the most in high school was The Giver by Lois Lowry. Man, how I hated that one. I told you the other day how I’m only now getting into Fantasy and Dystopian fiction, so that was part of it, probably. I think some of it, too, was that the world of Sameness was presented to me as Utopian. A perfect world that everyone should strive for.
That didn’t jive with me. Sameness did not equal Utopian in my mind. Not to this black sheep of a 17-year-old.
But, when I found out that they were going to make The Giver into a movie franchise, I decided I should give it another shot. And I loved it. I still don’t necessarily agree that it’s Utopian–Dystopian fits more in my mind. But the writing is fantastic, and so are the characters. The pain is so so real between The Giver and Jonas, and Jonas and Gabe. Lowry was writing for today’s teens way before some of them were even born.
I thought that I had read the second book, Gathering Blue, but after reading it, I’m not sure that I ever did. This book, while technically a “sequel,” does not contain the same characters as The Giver. It also does not take place in the same community. It follows similar themes, however, where the past is mostly shrouded in mystery–other than what is passed down by the Singer every year. The village is surrounded by woods filled with “beasts” that are a threat to the people. Kira has a gift of color, and when her mother dies, she is taken to the central building to learn how to refurbish the Singer’s robe.
Again, as with The Giver, the writing is beautiful and much more emotional than today’s YA Dystopian fiction. Proof that you don’t have to have action to make young adult books worth it. Well, at least in my mind anyway. I guess I’m not really a “young” adult anymore…*sigh*
The next book in the Quartet is called The Messenger, and then The Son. I’m looking forward to reading those two, and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of those.
Have you gone back and read any required reading? Did you get more out of it the second time?