Son (Anglais) Broché – 6 mai 2014
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Revue de presse
—Kirkus, starred review
"Lowry is one of those rare writers who can craft stories as meaningful as they are enticing."
—Booklist, starred review
"Son is a tender conclusion to this memorable story, and definitely the best of the books in this sequence since The Giver itself."
—School Library Journal, starred review
"The strength of this novel is its compassionate portrait of a mother's commitment to her lost child."
"In the completely absorbing opening, Lowry transports readers back to the horrifying world from which Jonas came."
“A consummate stylist, Lowry handles it all magnificently: the leaps in time, the shifts in perspective, the moments of extreme emotion — fear, joy, sadness — all conveyed in unadorned prose that seizes the heart. Give this book to your child, your grandmother, your senator, your neighbor: It’s a bipartisan tale for our times.”
—The Washington Post
“Lois Lowry's Son [is] a gripping end to the Giver series”
—The Los Angeles Times
“It's the kind of book that will stay with you for days as you wonder about what it says about human nature, society, and the future of society.”
"A quiet, sorrowful, deeply moving exploration of the powers of empathy and the obligations of love."
—The New York Times Book Review
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On the good side, I was happy to meet again characters from the other books. And the spirit, the values put forward are still remarkable. So, if you liked the series, read this one, but don't expect too much.
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"The Son" starts with the birth of a "Product" to a fourteen-year-old girl named Claire, who has been chosen as Birthmother in the same community where Jonas originally lived. Something goes drastically wrong, and although the child survives, Claire is left sterile, and relegated to a dull job at the Fish Hatchery. She's also left in the dark as to what has happened, having been blindfolded throughout the procedure. None of her fellow community members can offer any enlightenment and do not share Claire's maternal yearnings (or any type of passion). (Fans of "The Giver" will easily figure out why Claire is different.) As a result, she is somewhat alienated but very determined to see her son again.
From the hatchery, Claire gets a chance to view the incoming ships and a taste of what a different community might be like. She also begins volunteering at the center where the "newchildren" are and becomes friendly with Jonas' father, who works as a nurturer there. As she figures out that Gabe (or the fractious young "Number Thirty-Six") is indeed her son, the series reader is on familiar territory and knows ahead of time what's going to happen. Eventually, Claire sets off in search of Gabe, which brings her to a community which tolerates far more individuality in its members, although the people there are puzzled at the gaps in her knowledge of things such as colors and music. Although Claire is accepted there and finds a mentor, she decides to move on. Her quest for her son will lead her into danger, both physical and supernatural. Her story then overlaps with Jonas', Kira's and Gabe's. Is there a happy ending? I won't spoiler it, but will say that once done, you have more satisfying answers than you did at the end of "The Messenger."
"The Son's" main theme is choice; as in "Harry Potter," the characters are forced to decide between doing what is right and what is easy. What is sacrificed may wind up causing unexpected pain, and attempts to put things back the way they were may not work. As any fan of fairy tales knows, being granted your heart's desire is often the path to misery, regardless of how it appears beforehand. Is a world whose inhabitants are basically content really worth it, or does it wind up creating people who feel like outcasts anyway? What then are the options for those who don't, or can't fit in? How do you develop a gift if no one in your community can conceive of what you're capable of? The "Giver" series goes far in ably exploring these questions and prompting the reader to do so, as well.
"Son" does indeed start in the same society as "The Giver", but it is set during the same time period as the first book, and in a lot of ways, simply retells that story from a different perspective. The story then moves to a new society, a seaside world set at the edge of a cliff seperating it from the rest of the world, and then to the world of "Messenger". The story follows Claire, a birthmother from the Giver society, on a quest. I won't give away any plot points, but the book works to tie everything up, and in a lot of ways, it does. However, in the ways I truly wanted, it didn't. We really have no more idea than when we started as to the whys of it all. How did this world come to be, split in small odd societies? How did the strange world of The Giver get planned and started? Why is technology so different in each world? Most of all, I would just like to find out more about Jonas and Claire's original home, the planned, sterile world of The Giver.
The writing is skilled here, and the emotions portrayed are dramatic. There is more than I would like of long detailed descriptions of physical journeys, and the somewhat misplaced Trademaster from Messanger, a sort of jarring supernatural element, plays much more of a role than I'd like, but overall, the book is well plotted and well paced. It just feels a small amount like a cop-out to me. Or more accurately, like yet another attempt to perfect an already near perfect literary achievement, "The Giver". Some books don't need sequels, although you might want one. I did, but now I realize perhaps I should have left well enough alone, and maybe Lois Lowry should have too.
The Giver itself, of course, is wonderful. It is everything that young adult fiction should be, from start to finish. Even now, with technology being what it is, the book holds up perfectly well and will probably hold up for a great deal longer. If you've read Lowry's acceptance speech for the Newbery Award for The Giver, you know how much of her life went into this book. It shows. It's crafted, with precision. I enjoy The Hunger Games series, but they're about as far apart as possible while both still being Young Adult fiction. I get the sense of time spent with The Giver, and it's both in how the book was written and how it is presented. Watching Jonas digest his world in the bits and pieces he is fed by the Giver is spellbinding.
Lowry's acceptance speech in 1994 has always bothered me, however. Her insistence that she won't tell you the true ending ("There isn't one," she says. "There's a right one for each of us, and it depends on our own beliefs, our own hopes.") of course was eliminated with the two previous sequels, Gathering Blue and The Messenger. We know what happened at the end of The Giver, or at least what did NOT happen. A great deal of guesswork was eliminated, and that flies in the face of that first book and what ending was published. We actually DO know what happened with Gabriel and Jonas on that sled at the end of the Giver.
Gathering Blue and The Messenger are not bad books (I enjoyed Gathering Blue more) but they are inferior to The Giver, and I think by far. Knowing the personal touches Lowry put into The Giver, it's not a surprise. But that Newbery speech always bothered me. Why the change in opinion to something so important?
When a librarian friend offered the chance to read Son, I said yes without a bit of hesitation. As far as the quality of writing, it's on par with The Giver, for the most part. There are some parts that aren't as good, but the level of detail, and the attention to detail, are make this book well-written. Seeing the published interviews in the past few days ahead of this book, there's no doubt that the loss of a son affected Lowry just as powerfully asher upbringing did. The proof is in this book.
And yet, the promise lost from The Giver is part of the problem. If I were to speak to Ms. Lowry, I would want to know: how far into the future did you expect this series to go? The Giver has always seemed like it was meant to stand alone. Would it have been better if it did? If you didn't add the connections to The Giver in the next two in this series, could they have stood on their own? Is it the George Lucas "syndrome", where revisionist history attempts to erase the proof that it was meant to stand alone, that there was no way of knowing how much the world would love your work and how much the world would beg for more? Any reasonable fan knows how much evidence there is that "Star Wars" was something no one could have imagined would become as big as it did...and the clumsy attempts to erase the proof make it that much more obvious. No, there never were Jonas action figures, but the point remains. What caused the change?
However, my personal bias aside, there are other problems. Is the book rooted in science, or fantasy? The attempts to include elements of fantasy or religion here seem to greatly take away from the overall, noble premise of searching for someone you have lost, and still may never see again. The endurance training here is even more realistic (because we see it) than Jonas' mental preparation in The Giver, though the difference between the two is shown in the two books.
The biggest problem? Well, here it is, without spoilers. The book had me. I enjoyed it, and thought it was going well. The various surprises all fit and made sense, and I felt that I hadn't seen them coming. And then Claire gets to the top. From that point on, the book falls off the rails and adds things from out of left field. Again, is this the same world that practiced eugenics and had the ability to control the weather? It can't be. How could it be?
I understand and appreciate the pain that Ms. Lowry felt losing a child, and I hope that this book proved cathartic for her. I'm sure it did, because this book has quite a bit of craft in it as well. However, the end is tacked on from another book by another author...it certainly seems that way.
So, Ms. Lowry says this is the end of the series. Will it truly be?
The first part of the book I absolutely loved. I was savoring the pages, reading it slow, wanting to take it in and experience it. I normally fly through books so quickly I have a hard time remembering the characters and the plot soon after I put them down. Not so with this book; I took my time - the beginning of the story begged for that type of reading. The character of Claire was amazing and I was thrilled to be back in Jonas' world. I felt Claire's induction in the quartet was believable and wonderfully creative. The "Water Claire" section was also written very well and interesting. It flowed quite nicely with the first part of the story.
And then . . . the last section. It was as if there was either a mad rush to bring this all together or somebody different wrote the ending. I really don't know what happened. This wonderful, engaging, well developed story split into a hodgepodge mess that I had a hard time finishing. I lost complete interest in Claire and I had very little positive feelings toward Gabe. The ending was predictable and swift.
I was asked today by some teachers if I would recommend the novel. My response was to read the first two sections and perhaps just create their own ending for the last section. I read another review that suggested that this might not be the final installment. I almost hope that it isn't - I would love to be taken back to the original village. Perhaps learn what happened when Jonas left. Or, simply finish the series with the same beautiful writing, character development, and creative storyline that the first book in the series was teeming with.
The first part of SON takes place in the same community where Jonas became apprentice to "The Giver." This time, however, we see the story from the perspective of fourteen-year-old Claire, who is about to deliver her first child (or "Product," as the community calls it). Claire is a "birthmother," and her role is to produce "newchildren" to be assigned to married couples. When something goes wrong during the delivery, Claire is reassigned to the Fish Hatchery and her newborn son is sent to the nursery. She is not supposed to think about him again, but she can't help it, and before too long she's manufacturing excuses to visit him, to learn about him, and to become part of his life. Something happens, however - those familiar with THE GIVER know what that is - and Claire is left alone to escape this community that has denied her the right to love.
Claire's story continues in a new community at the edge of the sea, surrounded by massive cliffs that keep the village isolated and cut off from other people. Here, Claire becomes more and more fixated on finding her son - no longer a baby - but "climbing out" is a dangerous feat that has seldom been attempted. Can Claire scale the massive cliffs and find her son? What will she have to give up in order to succeed? And will her ultimate sacrifice be worth it in the end?
The final section of SON takes place in the same village where MESSENGER is set. We meet Jonas again, who was once Leader of that community, and Kira (first introduced in GATHERING BLUE). Gabe is there too, now fifteen and determined to discover the truth about his past. All of their stories - and Claire's - come together in the novel's exciting conclusion, as they learn that "Those who aren't nourished will die." This is a satisfying and uplifting final volume in what is a wonderful series for children and young adults.
As always, Lowry's prose is crisp and beautifully simple; she uses just enough interesting words to challenge young readers without frustrating them. The subject matter here may be a bit more mature than what we find in THE GIVER, but it's a story young teens are sure to love. My only disappointment is that Lowry never gives us a glimpse of what Jonas's community was like after he left. That was always something that intrigued me - all those emotions and colors flooding back into their lives must have really shaken things up! Also, I've long been convinced that Jonas died at the end of THE GIVER - I know Lowry has discussed this, and her decision to "hint" at his survival in the subsequent novels was made to satisfy younger readers who were devastated at the thought of his death. She once said readers were free to interpret this any way they chose. But here the "hints" are made real, and there is no doubt that both Jonas and Gabe survived. I think that does change the significance of the ending of THE GIVER. But I have to admit, I like the way Jonas and Gabe play into this final book. So I'll go with the flow!
SON is a wonderful novel, and a worthy conclusion to Lowry's GIVER series. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who has read the earlier books. If you haven't read them - lucky you! - I suggest starting with THE GIVER, since much of this story reflects that novel. These are great novels and Lowry is a great writer. Highly recommended.
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