The Son (and Kindle Unlimited)

I may have had a pretty epic freakout yesterday. I’ve been saying for YEARS that someone needed to invent Netflix for books. And libraries have come really really close. I absolutely love the Overdrive app, especially since I can use it on my Kindle. BUT…the selection isn’t always great, and I often have to wait weeks for books while they sit on hold.

And then yesterday…Amazon announced Kindle Unlimited.

If you haven’t seen the articles and announcement pages on this, you need to go check it out. And no, I am not getting paid or anything by Amazon, I just am really excited about this idea. They are running a 30 day free trial, and I am allllll about that.

The basic premise is that you have access to borrow 600,000 ebook titles from Amazon, on any Kindle (or Kindle app!), plus Audible audiobooks. Not every publisher is on board with this, but 600,000 titles is a LOT, people. From what I’ve flipped through, I’m pretty stoked.

There’s no return limitation, and from what I can tell, no holding. I’m excited about it, and I’ve signed up for the free trial. It’s just in time too, since I have to pack up the rest of my books today, and I have vacation coming up. My Paperwhite is going to buuuuusy.

Also–before anyone asks–I will still use my library. There are books that I’m not going to be able to get online from Amazon. It’s not a perfect system. And, ebooks will never, ever replace a real book for me. For me, ebooks are auditions, usually. I often read them in ebook format first, before I commit to a purchase.

And now on to our regularly scheduled review:

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I have been wanting to read the last book in Lois Lowry’s quartet for awhile now, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on it. The two libraries I’m a member of here didn’t have it online, and I haven’t had time to run in and grab it. So, of course, The Son was the very first book I pulled from KU.

Lois Lowry wraps up her series with Gabe’s mother Claire. She was an almost invisible character in the first book, and here we get her entire story. We also see Gabe as a young man, and a hero.

My favorite thing about Lowry’s quartet is that almost every character has a specific part to play, and even someone minor may come back later. The details matter. She didn’t just sit down and write the first book, and then the rest of the series as an after thought. She had to of had a complete mapped out plot and plan ahead of time. I would love to see her outline. “This is where this person connects and how I’m going to wrap up this community.” Some places are modern and some are almost medieval and peasant-like.  I would love to see a map of this place. Where is Tolkien when we need him?

Jokes aside, I see her as a YA version of Tolkien. Her stories are more simplistic maybe, in the way they are written, the language is not so intricate. But that doesn’t make them any less beautiful or deep. I’ve talked to a lot of people lately, who liked The Giver, but stopped after struggling with Gathering Blue. Keep reading. Finish the series. Everything connects in the end, but that second book is a little frustrating to get through. It’s sad and it doesn’t seem like it has anything to do with Jonas and Gabe. It has everything to do with them. Trust me.

Messenger

Wow guys, if I had any doubts about Lois Lowry’s dystopian series, I have none now. Messenger blows the first two books out of the water.

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I was a bit frustrated after reading Gathering Blue, because aside from sharing the same themes, it really had no connection to The Giver. The characters didn’t over lap, and I wasn’t even sure it was in the same time period. But everything starts making sense when you read Messenger. At first the overlap is extremely subtle. So subtle I missed it. And then I almost jumped out of my chair when I realized who the main character is.

I’m not going to tell you what the connections are. You’ll have to figure it out on your own. But, if you have any interest in the first two, you’re going to love the third book. I can’t wait to read the fourth. Gimme Gimme!

 

 

Gathering Blue

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.

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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.

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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?