Review: Son

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They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

It’s possible that you remember my post of predictions for Son (a sequel to The Giver), but I don’t mind if you’ve forgotten. It was thirteen months ago and I’ve only just now read it. Yeah, I’m kind of slow.

Anyway, my guesses were as follows:

  • Water Claire is from Jonas’ community. Check. It was pretty obvious.
  • A Birthmother is the individual (personality, et cetera) and the Vessel is just her body. In the same manner, Products might be unborn Newchildren. Check. I am awesome for thinking she wasn’t necessarily from another place – the community might have different names for the same thing.
  • Claire’s son is most likely Jonas. Ha ha ha ha… no.
  • But maybe her son is Gabe. Check. Wow, I didn’t expect that. I didn’t really want that. I wanted the Jonas I knew over the Gabe I only sort of knew.

Now that you’ve seen how much I suck at making predictions, let’s get on to the review. I’m going to focus less on the plot, since it’s described above, and more on the quality of the writing.

Son is split into three sections: Before, Between, and Beyond. Each is set in a different place – The Giver‘s community, a village near the sea, and the town for outcasts from Messenger. Each section was necessary to the story, definitely, but their length made the pace of the novel drag.

The previous books in Lowry’s series have been around two hundred pages each. By contrast, Son is close to four hundred. Length is unrelated to the quality of a story, in my opinion – just look at The Giver. It’s really, really short yet manages to be compelling, thought-provoking, and even frightening. I admire that book in part because it has no wasted words.

Son, on the other hand, seemed to be stalling for time. Before and Between have sixteen chapters each, while Beyond has thirteen. I would’ve cut each part back to nine or ten chapters. I enjoyed a second glimpse of The Giver‘s “perfect” world but just as Claire was bored by her new Assignment of Fish Hatchery Attendant, so was I. I get that she doesn’t like working there – let’s not bore the reader in order to drive that point home.

The problem was exacerbated (wow, look at me dropping those SAT vocabulary words!) with each new section. Was there really a need for chapter after chapter describing how Claire trained to climb a cliff that would lead her out of the seaside village? (And why didn’t she just sail away?) At one point I thought Lowry was going to describe every single rock Claire touched on that ascent. It was not a great moment.

And that’s not all. Remember how perfectly ordered Jonas’ community was? No one ever messed up or they were released/killed? Yeah, I don’t know what happened to it. Claire begins to feel, well, feelings because someone forgot to tell her to take the pills after she stopped being a Birthmother. If you don’t think about it too much, the plot hole fills itself, but otherwise you’re left going, “Huh? This seems highly unlikely.”

I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t recommend Son. Although, I’ve been less and less satisfied with each sequel to The Giver, I thought surely Lowry would give it her all in the final book of the series. Unless you are head-over-heels in love with her writing and/or desperate to find out what happened to Gabe, I wouldn’t suggest that you read this. Just stick with The Giver.

Rating: 2.5/5

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
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One Response to Review: Son

  1. Pingback: Book Review: “Son” | The Cheap Reader

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