Back in 2014, when I read and reviewed The Giver, I erroneously thought that book was the first in a trilogy, where the second book would pick up where the first left off. I soon learned that there is a quartet of books, and that Gathering Blue, the second installment, while in the same "universe" as The Giver, has none of the same characters and takes place in a different community. Jonas and Gabe from the first book apparently reappear in a later one (from some poking while trying to avoid spoilers, it appears this will happen in The Son, which is the fourth book). After finding out all this, I wasn't sure whether I'd continue with the series. But Gathering Blue came up in a search in my library's e-collection for available mystery audiobooks, so I decided to give it a try. (Funny that I note in my review of the first book that it ended at mile six when I was doing a ten-mile run. Gathering Blue ended at mile 10 if a 20-miler.)
I found that I liked this book better than the first, though I will say that I also found the community the characters live in implausible. Why are people so callous about young children? Somehow everyone is impatient with and cruel to "tykes." One even casually comments that it would be no big deal if one of them died, because there are "too many of them."
Kira is a young girl with a talent for stitching elaborate needle-point type work. Her father had died before Kira was born, reportedly "taken by beasts," and her mother recently died of illness. Because of the illness, the cot that they shared is burnt, and a brutal neighboring woman declares that Kira should be put out in the field because she has a bad leg and the cot-space is needed to build a pen to keep in the tykes (!). (The dead, dying and lame are put "in the field" to decompose, die, or be taken by beasts.) Because of her talent, Kira is given a special task--she will be in charge of repairing and completing the Singer's Robe, and she is kept in comfortable quarters and given fine meals. She soon meets other talented children in the same compound--Thomas the carver and Jo the singer (Jo is barely out of toddlerhood and therefore only has a one-syllable name; syllables come with age).
So of course things are not as they seem, and one of the questions is how special, talented children come to be orphans given special jobs related to their gifts. What stories about their past are not quite true? What changes might they be able to effect for the future?
Again, the implausibilities take me out of the story somewhat--but I will probably seek out the audiobooks of the other two books, The Messenger and The Son.