Son (Giver Quartet) (Giver Quartet, 4)

by Lois Lowry

Hardcover, 2012





Clarion Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, 400 pages


Unlike the other Birthmothers in her utopian community, teenaged Claire forms an attachment to her baby, feeling a great loss when he is taken to the Nurturing Center to be adopted by a family unit.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

400 p.; 8.25 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member RBeffa
Lois Lowry's original "Giver Trilogy" felt imcomplete and unfinished when I read them. I thought them only loosely related. "The Giver" first appeared in 1993, followed by "Gathering Blue" in 2000 and "Messenger" in 2004. All three books, sequential in time, reflect different societies that exist
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in what one presumes is our dystopian far future. I found "The Giver" to be a rather stunning novel, and although I enjoyed the two following companion stories, I felt both were much weaker stories in their telling, especially compared to "The Giver". I was very pleased when I discovered that a fourth book in this series was to be published.

"Son" is about twice the size, in length, of one of the previous books. It is told from the point of view of Claire, who we first encountered indirectly in "The Giver" as a birthmother. At the end of "The Giver" the protaganist of that story, the boy Jonas, had fled their village with a child, Gabe - he did this to rescue the child from certain death, and when "The Giver" ends we are left uncertain of the fate of Jonas and Gabe, and we could only hope that they reach a place of sanctuary.

This story, "Son", is told in three parts, covering a long period of time, each with a different focus. The first two parts of the novel focus on Claire, and the third part shifts significantly to her child Gabe. Each part has a strength. There are actually three books within the book. The first part parallel's the time of "The Giver". The story initially is Claire's story and is very good, although in hindsight it seems a little slow and drawn out. However, we really gain a new view and appreciation of the baby Gabe, as well as Jonas's father. My mind's eye instantly transported me to the village of "The Giver" as soon as I started reading "Son". I do not want to spoil the story by revealing details, but this part of the story ends when Jonas has left the village of "The Giver" with Gabe to save him from the proscription of death handed down to an imperfect child. Claire too leaves the village to try and find her son.

I think the middle book of "Son" is my favorite storytelling part of this novel. In this part of the book Claire lives in a very isolated village we have not seen before, quite different from the other societies we have encountered so far in this series. Here, without her son, she grows into a woman, spending six years. Claire very much wants to find the son taken from her. A friend tells her how to leave, but the cost of it turns out to be terrible. Again, I don't want to spoil the story with details, but at this point the devil appears, or something very much like him. I could only wonder, "what is the moral of this tale?" An innocent girl, later a woman, escapes from an unjust life, works very hard and deserves some measure of success for it and is instead severely and unfairly punished by evil. I was disappointed that the story had come to this.

The third part of the novel skips ahead about 7 years and is set in the village from "The Messenger", where Jonas lives as does Claire's son Gabe. This part is a bittersweet tale, and we do get resolution.

"Son" makes clear some events and things which were unclear to many readers of the prior books. Some readers may see this as taking away some of the mystery of the first books that helped make them so good, and I can't really argue against that viewpoint. I personally was glad to revisit the stories and have the added richness of detail of the world. We see events and people from the viewpoint of a new character and it adds dimension to characters we already know from before. The story is told so well that one need not have read the prior books recently, or at all. However, I wouldn't recommend that. At the very least "The Giver" should be read first.

The three preceeding books are well tied together with this "finale", although the problems that I thought existed with "Gathering Blue" and "Messenger" are not the sort that can be easily cured. To my dismay, the mystical evil faustian element introduced in "The Messenger" comes fully into play in the final part of this book. I don't care for it. Despite the journey and growth of characters like Claire, the book as a whole feels something like a tragedy, despite the final conquest of evil that appears at the end.

I can recommend this novel to those who enjoy young adult speculative fiction. Like the prior books in the series it is rich in events and situations that prompt thought and consideration of the implications of living in a society different than our own.

I received an advance review copy of this book through Goodreads "First Reads".
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LibraryThing member ohsillytwigg
Part 1: Loved it. Jonas' "hometown" always fascinated me. Getting to see it from another character's point of view was wonderful.

Part 2: You don't notice it at first, but the author's voice changes in part two. Lois goes from short, almost terse, sentences to longer and more poetic imagery.

Part 3:
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I kind of hated it, to be honest. I'm glad there was some closure and ending to the characters but the whole Trademaster plot was way out of left field.
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LibraryThing member queenoftheshelf
We meet Claire, who was selected at 12 to be a birth mother, and at 14 she is getting ready to "produce" her first "product." The stark language and descriptions add to our horror as we journey through the birth, which goes wrong, and Claire's subsequent shunning from the job of birth mother. We
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journey with her as she grieves for her loss, realizes who she is, and determines to find the child that was literally ripped from her womb.

Lovers of Gathering Blue and The Messenger will enjoy the closure of this novel, but fans of The Giver will probably leave wanting something more. Children in Grade 5 and older will be capable of handling the philosophical debates presented, although they might need a trusted adult nearby for the questions about the relationships between mother and child.
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LibraryThing member theokester
When I first read The Giver, I had no idea it was part of a series. I finally read Gathering Blue which was called a "companion book" rather than a sequel and I thought perhaps this "series" was only going to be loosely tied together. In the third book (Messenger), the series comes together more
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strongly by overlapping some characters and traits between the three books. The connect was still pretty loose but they were growing more related. With the fourth book, Lowry brings everything together to remove any doubt that all of these stories are happening at the same time in the same world.

Son begins in the same city as The Giver and follows the story of a young girl named Claire. She lived in the town at the same time as Jonas (the boy from Giver) but never really meets him. The book starts with a rather traumatic experience as we learn that Claire is a "birth mother" for the community. In this 'utopian' world, they have perfectly balanced science, interactions and behaviors to ensure optimal peace and tranquility for the inhabitants. As part of this, family units are prescribed through a very specific method. A young man and a young woman at some point in their life can apply for a spouse. Through arduous research, a Committee matches a pair of people together and they are now married. They can then later apply for a child. Each couple is allowed two children, one boy and one girl. Rather than having each couple deal with the uncertainty and potential trials of pregnancy, there are young girls selected to be birth mothers. These girls are artificially inseminated and then kept secluded and monitored until the baby is born at which point the baby is nurtured by another group until it is old enough to be given to one of the couples who applied for a child that year.

For Claire, childbirth is a difficult experience both because of the methods used to keep her from knowing her baby and from the actual labor she goes through. She ends up having an emergency C-section and is deemed unfit to be a birth mother any longer. She is sent back out into society and given a new job. But she is not content. She does not forget her experience and her son. She overheard a conversation during the delivery and knows his ID number. From there, she decides to seek him out. She doesn't have a plan for what to do once she finds him, but she is determined to find him, certain that knowing him will help fill the empty spot in her life.

As you should expect, Claire's quest to find her son isn't an easy one and doesn't go as planned. She does find him and interacts with him but she's not sure what to do next. Then one night, she is thrust into action and finds herself on a whole new adventure.

This book is divided into three separate sections, each labeled a "book." Each "book" takes place in a different city or community but Claire is present in each and there is a certain trial to be overcome in each. I'll end any synopsis here to avoid spoilers other than to say that Claire will be interacting with elements from each of the other books in the series.

I really enjoyed the vibrancy and structure of the storytelling in this book. I also loved the way the book was broken up into three smaller "books" each of which was nearly as stand-alone as the previous three books in the series (although if they were read individually, they would likely have been a little less fulfilling as they end even more abruptly than the other books and leave you needing more).

I loved revisiting the community from Giver and learning and experiencing more now that Lowry has had almost 2 decades to ponder the original. There were a lot of very unique elements and thoughts. I loved the way Claire turns things over in her mind to try and analyze them and by doing this she presents the reader with a lot of questions about how a society should work and what might make a society better or worse and in what ways.

The second "book" in Son was the one most separated from the overall series as it happens in a new town and with new characters not present elsewhere. These characters and this setting seem to be the happiest and most well balanced of the communities we encounter although they certainly aren't as technologically, socially or educationally advanced as the other communities. This felt somewhat like a commentary on what makes for a happy and "good" society. It's not necessarily the best technology or the best education. Those things can help, but they can also corrupt.

The third "book" in Son takes us to a stunning climax that dives into the heart of the world introduced in Gathering Blue and fleshed out in Messenger. It appears that Claire may get what she wants but has to sacrifice nearly everything to do so and really doesn't even get to enjoy her reward.

What I found was very interesting about this final "book" is that it turned away from a commentary on the community per se and presented a somewhat supernatural antagonist. This felt a little strange to me. The first two books in the series were quite clearly in the "man versus society" genre where it was evident that the corrupt antagonist was society or the community and not one specific person or force. In the third book of the series this was still somewhat true but became a little more nebulous. Rather than being "versus society", it was more "versus behavior" in that the problem was that people were becoming greedy and prideful and antagonistic. There was a single force on the periphery but he wasn't explored to much and we were still left with a somewhat allegorical or higher level conflict.

In Son, we start by refreshing our distaste for a community trying to do good but doing so by repressing emotion and free will. We see the contrast of a happy society with true freedom even though they have some petty arguments at time. But then we end in a place of supernatural intervention. I admit that the supernatural "being" is actually just a "human form" of another nebulous/high level concept so it can still be argued that the same methods and form hold true. But by personifying the antagonistic force in this way, it felt like Lowry made her overall statement a little less forceful.

At the same time, having a physical "human" form to battle against made for a more dramatic climax as well as ensuring that there was a way to truly "end" this story by overcoming a person rather than a thought.

I really enjoyed the way this series wrapped up. I loved the curious communities and people that were developed throughout this series. I especially loved the character development that happened in Son, both of Claire and of her child (who we get to know more closely later in the book). If you haven't read this series, I definitely recommend it. I must warn you that it isn't a "happy" story per se. Even the "happy endings" in the books come with a twinge of sorrow and loss. Still, they are insightful and wonderfully thought provoking. They are written for a younger audience but the themes are a little heavier so they're probably best for Middle Graders or thereabouts.

Have you read the Giver series? What did you think?

4.5 out of 5 stars
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LibraryThing member drachenbraut23
This is the fourth installment in the Giver Quartet and also it was still a good read, I felt that this book compared to the others was definately lacking. This book is also the longest and divided into three parts: Before, Between, and Beyond.

The main character in this book is Claire who was born
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into the same society as Jonas. She was choosen to become a birthmother, a "vessel" to produce the children for the community. Giving birth to her first child something goes wrong and she gets reassigned to work in the fish- hatchery. Like Jonas she is able to experience true feelings and tries to find "her" baby as she is tormented by her seperation from her son. Finally, she finds him and gets the change to bond with him in some ways. However, something terrible happens and she leaves the colony, only to find herself later shipwrecked (with no memories) and rescued by yet another community.

This is where the second part of the book starts. She manages to make herself at home in this new settlement and gradually her memories come back and again she is driven by the need to find her son. Finally, she also leaves this settlement as well to carry on the search of her son. The last part brings her and us back to the "Village" where we meet our old friends Jonas, Kira and Gabe (who is now a teenager).

Obviously, I don't want to give too much away. But let's say it this way I thought the Beginning of the story was fascinating, because we got another glimpse into Jonas society. The second part was sort of soothing, but it didn't really leave a great impact on me. The last part, well, was actually a bit dissapointing. Although, we do meet Jonas and Gabe again, I felt her message in this book was somewhat lacking. In the first three books she was able to capture the different aspects of humanity and the consequences of different pathways in forming a community. Here, her emphasis is that love can overcome all evil and especially the end was really rushed.
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LibraryThing member prkcs
Unlike the other Birthmothers in her utopian community, teenaged Claire forms an attachment to her baby, feeling a great loss when he is taken to the Nurturing Center to be adopted by a family unit.
LibraryThing member brangwinn
A satisfying, tense end to Lowry's Giver quartet. To get the full impact of this story, you must read the entire quartet in order. Pieces are pulled together and relationships explained in this final book. Although I have GIVER and GATHERING BLUE in my elementary school library, more maturity is
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needed for readers to appreciate the last 2 books.
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LibraryThing member nittnut
Starting from a completely unexpected (to me) place, Son overlaps The Giver a bit. Claire has been selected to be a birth mother. She encounters difficulties at the birth and is reassigned. For one reason and another, she never starts taking the pills that all the adults take. She is able to
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remember giving birth and that she had a son. She discovers where he is, and ultimately learns that he is to be released because he is not settling in. On the night that Jonas leaves the Community with her son, she leaves by another way. Son is the story of her journey to find her son. It is a story of courage and love and learning to accept and use the gifts we have to help others.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
I found this concluding book in the Giver Quartet mixedly satisfying, BUT that is possibly because I haven't read the third book. The novel's divided into three parts and I felt like the beginning of each new part dragged.
LibraryThing member debnance
Are sequels ever as good as book one?

I can’t think of a single time I have found this to be true.

And, consequently, I’ve formed my policy of Reading Only the First Book.

It is a policy that has served me well in my life.

With a few, rare exceptions.

Like The Giver series. Now, having read Son,
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I’ve read them all.

And, I say, they are all good. None of the sequels are quite The Giver (how could they be?!) but all are strong novels that stand alone, if necessary.

When I read the story of Lois Lowry’s loss of her son, I knew I had to read this one. And, as you might expect, it resonates with the poignancy of loss. And, though the magic of fiction writing, with the joy of reuniting.
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LibraryThing member ljhliesl
Step away from the cash cow, Ms. Lowry. Jonas's Community wouldn't allow its citizens to talk to people from any Elsewhere that had such radical ideas as choice and gender. If there weren't insects, birds, and rodents, or weather and seasonal change in the Community, how did the river run and how
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could Jonas just bike out of the [Dome]? A supply boat necessitates that the Community generates something to trade, and what is that?

This is why later books in a series so often fail. Don't answer questions earlier books raise if those answers undermine credibility and crash the zeppelin of disbelief.
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LibraryThing member Lindsay_W
Lois Lowry never intended to write a conclusion to 1993’s “The Giver”, but fast forward to 2012 and Lowry, now 75, closes the Giver series with “Son.” Readers who always wanted to know what happened to Jonas and Gabe will feel satisfied with this ending. Readers who were ok with the
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ambiguous ending of the Giver will enjoy her depiction of other communities as well as exploring human relations, good vs. evil and the powerful bond between a mother and a child. “Son”, is really the story of Claire, a 12 with Jonas, who became a birth mother, and Gabe, the baby who failed to thrive and was scheduled to be sent “away” before Jonas escaped with him at the end of The Giver.
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LibraryThing member flight_of_stars
I actually went back and read or reread the other three books in this series because I’d heard that “Son” was something special – one of the must reads of the year – and I have to say that it is wrenching, deeply absorbing, and a worthy end to a beloved series.

That being said, here are
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some warnings: To parents and teachers, heed the 14+ suggested age rating on this. Unlike “The Giver”, which only briefly touches on the job of Birthmother, this story is about one of the fourteen-year-old girls sent to get pregnant and produce a “product” for three consecutive years. There is also a character who implies that his father sexually abused him, and the story is overall pretty bleak until the extreme end. Mothers who’ve lost or given up infants may also find the material extremely triggering.
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LibraryThing member WetheReaders
Intriguing and at times the writing is almost musical. I felt like there were missing pieces between the civilizations that were not explained.
All in all a good book.
LibraryThing member aelizabethj
I'm struggling with getting my feelings about this on paper. As a child, I loved the Giver. As an adult, I still love the Giver. I feel like it was such an integral part of my growing up, that I can't fully put it into words. I think the reason why it was so important to me was party due to the
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ambiguous ending, and how it left it up to the reader as to if it was a positive or a negative. That said, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I loved the companion novels, Gathering Blue and Messenger. I will admit, I did see the religious parallels that other reviews have mentioned, and that may have turned me off a bit, but that's my own issue, and it is not overtly done. Well, Matty sacrificing himself at the end of the Messenger for the good of the community was a bit Messiah-esque. Especially considering he died in a crucifixion style pose in the dirt. Gabriel and his angel of God name, vanquishing Evil with compassion. Yeah, I see the allegory. I was excited to see how the stories all matched up in the end, with Gathering Blue seeming the most off topic of the three. I absolutely fell in love with the character Claire. She was lovingly fleshed out in the beginning, and I could easily relate to her - but maybe only because I am an adult; most teens aren't yearning for their children. Returning the story to the original community was a surprise to me- it took me a while to catch on, but it was a throwaway line about the aging ceremonies and how some children were graduating to jackets that buttoned in the front that finally clued me in.
I struggled with how everything was wrapped up so neatly at the end, and that seems to be a theme present in a lot of the reviews I've skimmed. I give this four stars for the reason that it serves as a satisfying conclusion. But the part of Lowry's writing that I enjoy is missing. She answers too many questions. She completes the thoughts for us. The reader has little to ask or wonder in the end. Too tidy. As a writer she allows for the questions to linger. I think that's the power in her writing. But it also felt so much like a long awaited reunion. It is a satisfying closure to a long journey. I will say, that out of all the books, the characters that I wanted to read more about were Einar and Claire. Einar... never have I been so in love with a character. My heart hurts thinking of him and his sheep, missing Claire and living out his lonely little life. I'm happy Claire and Gabe were reunited, but throw a dog a bone, will you?
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LibraryThing member librarybrandy
A reasonably-satisfying conclusion to The Giver quartet, which I'm now curious to re-read to see if I notice Claire in the background--I'm curious as to how long Lowry has had this in the works, mentally.

Tagging this as Adult because, really, the writing is accessible to kids and teens, but the
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subject matter--well, I don't think they're going to have a lot of real understanding about the loss of a child and the maternal instincts that really propel the plot. This is a book for the adults who read The Giver 20 years ago (yeah, it's been just about 20 years; can you believe that?) as kids and want to know what became of the characters, and are now interested in the adult concerns that Claire (and Jonas and Gathering Blue's Kira) have.

What didn't work for me (minor spoilers if you haven't read the rest of the series):
Most of the book, I enjoyed, but as with Messenger the supernatural elements didn't work for me. Jonas is said to have a gift where he can "see beyond," and that's what makes him become the Keeper of Memories, but I was always able to take that as metaphor. Kira's gift for weaving, I was able to believe the same way. But then we get to Messenger and there's the Trademaster with his Needful Things trades and Jonas's "seeing beyond" is a weird sort of astral projection, and Gabe can do similar things... I dunno. To me, the fantastic elements really took away from the power of the book.

Anyway, a good conclusion to a teen series with very little teen appeal these days. Sigh.
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LibraryThing member Kiwiria
"The Giver" is still my favourite in the series, but this comes in as a clear number two - ahead of both "The Messenger" and "Gathering Blue". I liked the way the story was structured - in three clearly separate parts. Admittedly, each time we finished one part, I was sad to leave it behind, but
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fortunately I soon got caught up in the next part of the story.

A fascinating story and I loved how it tied together all the particulars of the other three books. Brilliant end to the quartet.
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LibraryThing member lindap69
Reading this book was a bit like riding a roller coaster - lots of anticipation but some slow parts. Because it finished the story started in The Giver it tied up lots of loose ends but in so doing did not provide the for the thoughtfulness and discussion points that made The Giver so special.
LibraryThing member fromthecomfychair
As a conclusion to The Giver, it was a conclusion, and somewhat satisfying, but it took a long time to get there, and I don't know if young adults will want to stay with it. The first 2/3 of the book are the birthmother, Claire's story. I found the first third, which takes place in the original
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dystopian community, to be interesting, as it showed the community from another angle. Claire is chosen as a birthmother because she is not smart enough to do something else (ooh, that ought to raise someone's hackles!). The middle portion of the book takes place in another location, and the third, when we finally meet up with Jonas and Gabe, is in yet another community. Lois Lowry's writing is so darn good, I enjoyed following Claire's journey. Maybe if I read the other two related books, I'll feel differently about this one.
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LibraryThing member bogreader
Perhaps because this book finishes the series, too many details are provided, rather than being left to the reader to interpret. The narrator Bernadette Dunne had a whisper-like tone that I didn't care for. Despite these failings, I enjoyed the book. I will go back to reread The Giver now.
LibraryThing member LaneLiterati
Although it was a bit slow in some parts, I enjoyed this finale to "'The Giver "series. It brought closure to all the previous stories. I enjoyed the book.
LibraryThing member AmberTheHuman
It's kind of crazy that I chose this year to read The Giver, because this, probably the last book in the series, came out in September. This book is the best since The Giver. It's a rough read - Claire goes through a lot, but it is completely worth it.
LibraryThing member sandra.k.heinzman
Great ending to a great 4- book series!
LibraryThing member mountie9
The Good Stuff

Beautiful hopeful ending to a fabulous series
Some honest truths and observations about life, love, sacrifice and family
After meeting with Lois Lowry and hearing her speech at the Children's Breakfast, I can see her strength and her love for her deceased son throughout the book
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Claire is a intriguing character, I didn't always understand her actions, but they made sense for her
Deals with the all consuming love you have for your children - as a mom this will impact you more
Ties all of the books together and you are left with the overwhelming feeling of hope that their world will change for the better - but without it feeling too neat or tidy
I still miss Matty - and when he is mentioned I teared up
Nice to see Jonas happy
Perfect book for class discussions and book clubs

-The Not So Good Stuff

I suggest reading the first three books before picking this up - otherwise you will be lost (I am glad I read the whole series very close together as it gave it much more of an impact)
A little too much detail about Claire's journey down the mountain

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"She would not let them take that from her, that feeling. If someone in authority noticed the error, if they delivered a supply of pills to her, she thought defiantly, she would pretend. She would cheat. But she would never, under any circumstances, stifle the feelings she had discovered. She would die, Claire realized, before she would give up the love she felt for her son."

"You won't ever know what that's like, to love someone, In a way I pity you."

4 Dewey's

I picked this up at BEA (Book Expo America) last year and am finally getting to it
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LibraryThing member tkappleton
This last book didn't live up to my expectations from the other three in the series. I have had a while to process, and I think it was a fine ending. Knowing what happens to everyone involved is ok. Seeing that more people are still developing 'powers' that others don't have can give you a lot of
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imagination fodder. Gabriel defeating the Trademaster is a bit of a let down though, because it sets the world up to be one where bad things can be defeated, and the purpose of all the others seemed to focus on having hope even though there is evil/bad out in the world. The overrunning theme of hope is what kept me coming back, and in a few paragraphs that was lessened IMO. But I also have to remember that if I want things to happen a certain way, I should probably write a book myself. :) The writing style was consistent and I liked having an ending after wondering for so long what laid in the future for everyone.
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½ (732 ratings; 3.8)
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