When an author can mirror the magnificence of their initial novel with a sequel of equal caliber, it is nothing short of magic. But to do it multiple times over is something that only the likes of Lois Lowry could do. After a sequel and third installment, Lowry does it again with her story, Son. (Please note that I will be building off of concepts already discussed in past reviews. If you are not familiar with the previous stories in The Giver quartet, please read the corresponding reviews)
Back in the good old community, there is a girl called Claire. As a birth mother, she has been artificially inseminated and will have a child, one of the three who she is fated to bear during her few short years before she is subjected to a lifetime of physical labor jobs. Much as the citizens of the community lack knowledge of numerous aspects of life, the birth mothers are oblivious to their pregnancy, and that they will have a child. It’s not like they woke up on e day and where all “What the heck? What’s this bump on my stomach?”. The understand pregnancy but don’t realize that it means they will have a child. They are told that they must carry a “product”, they are blindfolded during the birth, then it happens twice more. Despite being blindfolded, Claire can tell that something is going wrong with her delivery. It is due to this that Claire is given an early leave from her role as birthmother and condemned to work at the fish hatchery. However, she starts to gain knowledge of her child and eventually begins to volunteer at the child care center where she meets him, Gabe. Mind blown! Lowry does it again! Anyway, Claire deepens her and Gabe’s bond while she learns that he is being taken care of by Jonas’s family unit who has a deep affinity for him. BANG! Then, one night the community is all up and out of bed. All of the people are like “What could have disturbed me from my dreamless sleep in my grey Minecraft bed?” (I don’t know, that’s just what I always envisioned). Voices proclaim that Jonas has fled the community with a baby. Claire puts two and two together and goes “Oh shoot”. She runs onto a nearby shipping ship which sets out for the sea and becomes a sunken shipping ship (say that five times fast!).
Breathe, end of part one!
Claire is struggling and half hallucinating in the water because due to the emotional strain and, ‘cause she has like never swam before (reason number #2,567, 898 why the community sucks). She ends up on the shore of a rural town where she is adopted (‘cause like guys, she is still a minor at this point) by a woman called Alys. Alys is like the co-chief of the village and also the nurse and midwife. Under Alys’s guidance, Claire basically goes through preschool (she learns about colors, feelings, trigonometry, rocket science, you know, basic things that they did not have in the community). She also grapples with an immense feeling of loss and she can not understand why. It’s like that feeling when you go to school and your all “I feel like I’m forgetting something” then you sort of forget, but it resurfaces “What was it?”. Then class starts and the teacher’s like “Okay, I’ll collect all your homework” and you just go “Oh shoot”. That’s exactly how Claire felt when she had the consciousness to remember her son.
Then she starts going really mad. Before the news got out to the town, Claire was pretty hot stuff. There was this guy named Andres who was totally into Claire but after the news spreads, he’s like “Nah” ‘cause Andres is a sucky dud like that. Basically, in this little seaside village, premarital sex is a big no no and once you are no longer a virgin you sort of depreciate in value. This town is super traditional like that. Also, ‘cause they are like simple farm people living off of the Earth, they don’t get the concept of artificial insemination and that Claire did not technically hook up with anyone. All the ladies stay at home, silent in the kitchen and all the dudes do stuff like fishing or farming, stuff like that. The whole town is basically a bunch of Baby Boomers if you catch my drift. So, she is reduced to the laughing stalk of the village. The only ones to stick by her are Alys and Einar, a sheep herder.
Einar is such a sweetheart. He is so genuine and kindhearted with everyone, and the sheep which he has memorized all the names of. He is not a “macho man” like all of the other village men. He also has a depressing past. Einar’s mom died in childbirth. Therefore, his “macho man” father who was super upset about losing his wife who was like the best part of his dull “macho man” fisherman life, blamed it on his son and therefor made life sucky for Einar. This dude was a jerk, on steroids. On top of verbal and physical abuse, his father emotionally abused him in a way. Due to a, uh, lack of a female presence, Einar was subjected to fill his mother’s role in a few different ways, i’ll let you fill in the blanks. One day Einar got so fed up with his sucky life that he decided that he was going to scale the massive cliff that loomed behind the village. No one had ever gotten to the top before, some people tried but turned back, others died. Einar did it. But he might as well not have.
One day Claire tells him her story and how she needs to set out to find her son. She does not want to go back to the sea (don’t blame her) so she asks Einar to help her get over the cliff. If you have had visions of scaling Mt. Everest and their is a full camera crew waiting for you at the top and like a ton of money and food and a mansion or something (I don’t know what is in your fantasy!), I don’t think that a creepy dude was part of it. Like, I bet that you wanted anything but a creepy dude. Especially when that creepy dude wants to steal your soul. Putting two and two together, it’s Trademaster, (sarcastic yay!). So when Einar got to the top and was really for the cameras, Trademaster’s all “Hey dude, was there ever anything that you wanted real bad but you just could’nt get it?” and then Einar goes, “Nah brah, I’m good, I’m on top of the world right now, literally”. Then, Trademaster’s like “For realzies?” and Einar’s like “Yah dude, can I get you anything? Like a water or something?” After that Trademaster is like “Skrew you and your niceness!” and attacks Einar’s leg like a big fat jerk face. Then Einar’s like “Uh, I gotta bounce” and shimmy’s back down the cliff.
Now, Einar is crippled for life. When Einar tells Claire this, she agrees that she is willing to under go something of a similar category for the chance of seeing her son again. Einar agree’s to help her train to climb the cliff. After a few years Claire builds up enough endurance and strength to reach the top. Then, before she goes she and Einar kiss, ‘cause like why not and Claire gets to the top. When she gets there, she goes to sleep. You probably think that your alarm clock is a crappy thing to wake up to, waking up to Trademaster is worse. Trademaster’s all, “OMG, your hair is like totally adorbs, what conditioner are you using?”. Then Claire’s like “Oh thanks-wait a sec”. Then Trademaster’s like “What brings you to my neck of the woods?” and Claire goes, “Oh, ya know, stuff” and then Trademaster’s like “I know about the kid from all of the stalking that I’ve done of you on the intedwebs” and Claire’s all “Oh shoot”. Then Trademaster’s like, “Give me your hair, your beauty, your youth and I’ll tell you where he is”. Einar has told Claire that she should make the trade, whatever it was just to get it over with. So, she did it. He told her to go straight through the woods to which she said “It was that simple?” and she turned into an old lady. As she approached a town, she saw a group of boys and felt a connection with one of them, Gabe. She longed to see her sweet child but she realized what a fool she would look like, an old woman emerging from the wood claiming to be his mother. It was then that the full evil of Trademaster’s deal struck her.
Water break, part two!
Now that her plans of reunion with Gabe have been foiled, Claire moves into a quaint little place on the outskirts of the town. This town however, is the town in which Jonas and Gabe ended up at at the end of The Giver and the town in which Seer lived after he was blinded and the town which almost had a complete wall built around it due to the corrupt Trademaster. After Matty died in Messenger, all of Trademaster’s wrongdoing in the town where undone and he fled to the forest. That should be the end of the story, at least many of the citizens of the town thought so… duh, duh, duh. Anywho, Claire sort of stalks Gabe for a little while and begins to assimilate into the town. She starts getting sick and dying because she is now an older woman. She confides in the town leader her story and of her and Gabe’s connection. The town leader is Jonas who also plays somewhat of a father figure roll in Gabe’s life. Don’t get any ideas about him and Claire though because Jonas and Kira are married with two kids name Mathew and Annabelle. At first when Claire tells Jonas her story, he is like “Whatever old lady” but then he realizes, “Oh, shoot. Trademaster must really still be out there!”.
So, because this is the super logical thing to do, Jonas decides, “Yah know what, let’s send Gabe, a little kid, out into the forest to fight this dude”. Also, as Jonas is loosing his abilities to see beyond, Gabe is only discovering his ability of feeling what other people feel, basically sympathy. All the while, Gabe has been working on building a boat. He researched boats in books which he borrows from Jonas’s extensive library. He gets all pumped up about the boat, actually. He gets all his friends to carve their names in the oar that he will use to paddle and everything. But, the boat fails. When he goes into the forest to fight Trademaster though, he brings the oar with him. He finds Trademaster who challenges him to a duel, offering him an assortment of weapons to choose from but Gabe’s all “Nah, I’m good”. Trademaster insults Gabe telling him how he has traded with people far more worth while and how insignificant he is. Gabe refuses to fight Trademaster so, he tries to make a trade with Gabe, who turns it down. Gabe uses his ability to feel on Trademaster. He gets a bunch of hungry vibes back. Gabe then realizes that Trademaster is starving. But not starving like “Bruh, I could eat this whole pizza I’m so hungry” but starving for his victims sadness. He feeds off of their misery. Then Gabe’s all, “Hey, remember Mentor?” and Trademasters like, “Yah, I ruined his life” and then Gabe’s like “No way Jose, he is happy now. He is living every day like a boss”. That was like the equivelent of Gabe punching Trademaster in the stomach. He lurches and is like “Dang, that hurt”.
Then Gabes all “Remember Einar, the one who turned you down?” and Trademaster’s all, “Uh yah, I made him miserable” and Gabe’s like “Nah man, he’s doing great. Plus, this supper hot girl is totally into him”. That was another punch. With each punch Trademaster got more hungry for some kind of crappy ending. Then Gabe was like “And you remember that girl to, that babe in the story was my mom, Claire! She was looking for her son who, by the way, is just as hot! And she found me. You took her youthfulness away but we found each other so it didn’t even matter. You will never love anyone, and I feel bad, but also, screw you, I hope you starve!”. With that, Trademaster turned into a pile of sloppy gush because he was never really human, he was evil. Gabe buried the oar to commemorate the place where evil died and went back to the town where Claire was revived as a young woman and everyone lived happily ever after (for real this time)!
P.S. The book never says anything about this but I am totally curious about it and I think that other people are to: I just really want to assume that this happened and for the sake of putting it out there, in the Ainslican version of the text, Claire and Einar live together in the village where Jonas and Gabe and all them live. That makes the happy ending happier!
Son by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.