Rereading this series is just like reading it for the first time. It’s been that long.
Kira shouldn’t be alive. Born with a twisted leg and her father taken by beasts, the customs of her village demand she be left for dead. Her only champion was her mother, who defended her and taught her how to turn thread into beautiful patterns.
But when her mother dies, Kira is taken under the care of the Council of Guardians, who ask her to repair the robe of the singer. The singer, who every year reminds the village of its long past.
In her new job Kira is safe and useful. She learns to dye threads, gets all the materials she could wish, except the ability to make blue. But there’s a sense of danger. And Kira isn’t sure its because of the beasts.
This book is slow. Very slow. While things happen over the course of the novel, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere until the very end. And the end was rather predictable. Though, I still am quite (once again) confused by the ending.
As this is a companion novel to The Giver, it does spark some comparison, and while I generally like The Giver plot line better, I think Kira’s village is a little bit more of a believable setting. The raw cruelty is very William Golding-esque, particularly in the women. I do wish I understood the value of the singing. why is it so important?
I also like that we finally get a little insight as to the apocalyptic origins of this universe that Lowry has set up. That might seem a little self-contradictory, since I just said that I don’t understand the importance of the singing of the past to the characters, but to the reader it is rather significant.
Kira is a rather flat protagonist. To sum up her character, she is a weaver, and she is a cripple. She’s quite insecure because of the latter, and I like to think she grows slightly over the course of the novel. She transitions from being dependent to having others dependent on her, which is great growth.
I love Matt. He’s adorable and naive and curious and just the best little brother figure. He’s fun and just a joy to read about. I’m glad that the next book is centred on him.
Thomas is lovely side character. A bit of a Gary Stu, yes, but he’s a sweet little addition to the group. Jamison, Jo, and Annabella are also good characters. Lowry just has gift for drawing a character with very few words. I love it.
What can I say? Lowry knows how to describe. I love her style, it’s concise yet precise. There’s no such thing as filler in her books. Everything is put in place for a reason.
And yet (as in The Giver), I am left confused. There is a mystical element in this series that I can’t quite pin down. In The Giver, it was the memories, and here, it’s the artwork. I’m not sure if it’s just in their heads, or if it’s actually happening. I hope the following books has more information.
To tell the truth, Gathering Blue provides the same message as The Giver. We don’t want to be dictated into what we do. We should choose what we want to do.
However, the book localizes this to artistic expression (weaving, carving, singing) which makes the book rather closed off. And unlike The Giver, it doesn’t speak to the dangers of free expression, making the message rather one-sided.
While I like the ideas in Gathering Blue, it tends to fall flat. It does promise more information in subsequent books, and so I’d read it at least once if you loved The Giver, just to see if you’d like the continuation.
Recommendation: Read. Lovers of The Giver may or may not like this companion novel. If you’re looking for Jonas, you’re out of luck, but if you’re looking for another story from the world of The Giver (with subtle hints to Jonas in the future) you should give it a try.