Here Comes the Son: Son by Lois Lowry

November 8, 2012 Children's Fiction, Coming of Age, Dystopian, Family, Fantasy, Women's Studies, Young Adult Fiction 19

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

We have reached the final leg of our Giver journey! Who’s excited? I can practically hear you hooting and hollering through the internet. Love the enthusiasm!

Son is the fourth and final offering in Lois Lowry’s Giver quartet. Son starts off with a bang by returning us to the scene of the crime- the original community! We’re back in the land of overscheduled, colorless, emotionless lives. But the bicycles are especially jaunty, you have to give them that.

We are introduced to a new character, Claire. Claire is a 14-year-old birthmother. Remember birthmothers? The girls in the community who weren’t fit for other occupation? Yeah. Those birthmothers. Claire is one of them. She’s 14. And pregnant! Oh, community, seriously?! You can fix the weather but you can’t figure out that young girls’ bodies, while capable of producing a healthy child, are not mature enough to do so reliably? I don’t remember what the ideal childbearing age is biologically speaking, but it sure as sugar snap peas isn’t 14!

Claire is busy chilling in the birthmother dorm hanging around the other birthmothers reflecting that it was kind of weird that she had no idea how human reproduction worked, what with the swelling of bellies and all. Then she goes into labor. She’s wheeled into a room and put into a leather mask (that sounds like nothing so much as accoutrements of Fifty Shades’ Red Room of Pain.) Unfortunately something goes wrong (I mean, it’s not like she’s a 14-year-old girl giving birth or anything!) and Claire has to have a c-section to release the “product.” Claire is given some time to recover and is then re-assigned to work in the fish hatchery. The community doesn’t like c-sections, apparently, so she’s kicked out of birthmother-ing.

The powers that be made two mistakes. First, someone mentioned to Claire that her “product” was a male and gives her his birth number. Second, the community is so dang flustered at their screw up with Claire’s assignment that they forget to give her the pills! (The PILLS! The ones that make you sterile and steal your emotions. Egads, the girl has FEELINGS now!)

It’s a party mix! Saddest thing about the pills? Even if they were fun colors, nobody in the community could see them. Sad trombone.

In case you hadn’t guessed this already, Claire’s baby is Gabe. While Gabe is spending his nights with Jonas and his family, Claire is volunteering at the nursery to spend time with her baby boy. She begins to get attached (not allowed) and is devastated to hear from Jonas’s father that Gabe isn’t bound to be assigned, but released. (Released=Euthanasia, remember?) Claire is distraught and desperate to save her baby. Later that night alarms sound, because Jonas has escaped with Gabe. Claire hops onto a supply ship hoping to track them down…And then she’s shipwrecked!

Dun dun dun! Claire washes up on the shore of yet another society. This village is hemmed in by cliffs on one side and the ocean on the other, so it’s completely isolated. It’s not entirely unpleasant though. Actually, it’s the most normal of the places we’ve seen in this series of novels. It’s pretty much what you’d expect out of an isolated town, like 150 years ago. They don’t abandon their sick and injured to die in fields… Claire starts out with amnesia but soon remembers Gabe and her quest. She meets a disabled shepherd who is willing to train her on how to scale the cliff of doom (I added the “of doom” part. Creative license. Sue me.)

After an irrationally long (sorry Ms. Lowry, it was a bit drawn out…) sequence describing Claire’s physical training regime and her highly detailed climb, Claire escapes the village. But who awaits her at the top? Her Mr. Miyagi Shepherd buddy warned her about (dun dun duuuuuuun!) the Trademaster! Yes! The wicked fellow ruining lives in Jonas’s village is waiting for Claire! He demands a trade, and Claire knows she must accept, otherwise he’ll cut off half her feet the way he did Miyagi (jerk.) So. The Trademaster tells Claire he’ll get her to Gabe… In exchange for her youth. (Are you sensing more fantasy coming on?) Claire is turned from a young woman into a hunched, old, arthritic geezer. Sad! But, she is taken into Jonas’s village and gets to watch Gabe grow up from afar.

Cliff climbing. Like so. Only without the rope thingie and all the safety precautions. I may or may not have had a mild bout of vertigo reading this section…

Sidebar- Jonas and Kira totally get married and have babies, so yay for them. Unfortunately, Gabe is being a moody teenager and wants to find his “real” family. Claire is prematurely super old and is on her deathbed before she reveals her secret to Jonas. Gabe has a little bit of superpower about him and is able to pop into people’s heads and feel their feelings and stuff. It’s kind of vague, but somehow he is able to track down the Trademaster, get inside his head and destroy him. Then Claire is magically young again and they all live happily ever after. Yay?

When I look at this series as a whole, I’ve got to admit that for me nothing really lived up to The Giver. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy each of the books in their own way, I just felt that the messages in The Giver resonated with me in a way the others didn’t. Honestly, I would have preferred to hear about how the original community evolved after Jonas’s departure than have the story branch out into so many other little societies, but alas, wasn’t in the cards. I also wasn’t thrilled with the turn the series took into full on fantasy either… I mean, fantasy is great, I just prefer it to carry it all throughout a series than to have it presented halfway through. I found Son a little bit predictable, too. But! I’m not a complete sourpuss! Overall, this series is a great example of young adult fiction. There are all sorts of good lessons to learn, and I appreciate a happy ending, no matter how it comes about. Give it a shot and decide for yourself!

Have any of you Bookworms made it all the way through the series? Are you pleased with the way Lowry wrapped up the story? Do you still have unanswered questions? Let’s talk about it!

19 Responses to “Here Comes the Son: Son by Lois Lowry”

  1. Brittany

    OOoh okay, this sounds like it connects a lot more to the whole series. I’m really looking forward to reading it now!
    Thanks for the journey through the series 🙂 That was a lot of fun!

    • Words for Worms

      Thanks Brittany! Yes, Son really does tie up a lot of the loose ends for the characters you’ve come to care about. I’m glad you liked the journey (and that you’re not upset that I spoiled it.)

      • Brittany

        Nah, not at all. To be honest, I didn’t read ALL of the review of Son, just because I like to be surprised about a lot of how the plot unfolds. I read the beginning to get a general feel of it so I’m excited to finish the series 🙂

  2. Sami

    I was hoping that you would name them The Cliffs of Insanity but since their is no 6 fingered man in this story that would be inconceivable

  3. Leah

    How many societies are there in this world, good gracious!
    It does sound kind of disappointing that the last two books in the series turn into fantasy, but I think I’m still interested in reading them.
    Thanks for doing this series, it was fun to read!

    • Words for Worms

      Thanks for visiting Leah! Yeah, I wasn’t super stoked about how the last two books worked out, but all in all I think it’s a strong series. Good lessons for the young adult crowd. Less Jersey Shore! More books! I am your grandma.

  4. Akilah

    The first 2/3 of Son are awesome (Claire and Einar OWN MY HEART), but that last third? Blergh.

    Claire also gave birth to twins (mentioned in the Giver), which is the real reason I think she was banned from birthmothering, not the C-section. Good thing she didn’t find out there was a second product, huh?

    My review is here, if you’re interested.

    • Words for Worms

      I just read your review! Awesome. Now that you mention the twin thing, I remember it vaguely. I didn’t remember that Gabe had been a twin, just that they handled twins by “releasing” one of them…

      • Phua Jie-Ying

        The twins aren’t Claire’s children. She was reassigned shortly after Gabe’s birth, and Jonas said explicitly in the third part of Son that Gabe was Claire’s only child (since she never got married and applied for children in the community).

        • Words for Worms

          You might be right- about the twins- they ended up picking the healthier one, but it was just a subplot, not Gabe? I’d have to re-read to be sure. But yeah I was sure Claire only had the one pregnancy.

  5. matthew

    I just finished “Son” and I have to wonder. Is trademaster and Randall Flagg the same guy? In The Dark Tower they explain how all these worlds are connected. I just saw a lot of similarities between the characters.

    • Words For Worms

      I never made that connection, nor have I read the Dark Tower series. I don’t know that SK and LL planned it that way, but what the heck? It’s plausible enough, right? 🙂

  6. R

    In earlier books Seer was brought to the community, but in “Son” he got there himself? Previously in the series there was reference to the sled in the museum that brought Jonas and Gabe to the community. In “Son” they mention the bicycle. Why the inconsistency?

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