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review 2014-12-03 15:04
Rite of Rejection
Rite of Rejection - Sarah Negovetich

Rite of Rejection is a beautifully written YA dystopian novel, the first from Sarah Negovetich. I became thoroughly engrossed with this book from the moment I started reading it! The characters were interesting, the story premise was disturbing in its potential reality, and the action was on point.


We meet the heroine Rebecca at a crucial moment in her life, the day that she is accepted or rejected as a full-fledged member of society. It is society's coming of age ritual, one approached with glitz and glamour and pomp and circumstance. The actual day is kind of like graduation meets cotillion, yet so much more potentially life-altering than either of those events. Although all of the characters are interesting, Rebecca is the most fully developed. She is intelligent, more than a little naive, and totally out of her element for her new life. Her new life is brutal and she is far too trusting. It is fortunate for her that she falls in with the people that she does. There is a clear message there that intelligence doesn't make you infallible!


I do wish that we had gotten to know a bit more about some of the core group of characters. We learned a bit about Molly, Elizabeth, and Daniel, but I would like to have known more about Eric and how he came to really be as he was. There was also a less central character, Constance, whose part may have been small, but whose humanity showed through. There was such a bittersweet tinge to her story and it was touching.


The world that the author created was rather terrifying, in and out of the PIT, the area in which those deemed undesirable were spent for the rest of their lives. The idea of living in a society in which one's entire future is in the hands of a machine that no one outside of those in the know understand. No one really knows what it is that marks someone for rejection and the implications are scary at best. The societal norms, too, were a bit surprising. Ideas about relationships and functional families were throwbacks to a time in our own reality's past. Women were barely educated, outside of the domestic arts. They were not expected to work, but to be housewives and rear children. Men, however, were more educated and assigned jobs. The belief was that these roles made for a more perfect, more ordered society. Any deviation from these rules were likely to leave you rejected.


The PIT, too, was frightening. It was Skid Row on a more epic scale. All of society's undesirables were housed here, treated horribly. It was lawless and chaotic, every moment a trial of survival. The author was able to so vividly describe it that I cpuld practically smell the rotting garbage and feel the dirt on my skin.


I have no idea if this is a standalone or there are more in store, but I hope for the latter. The ending was satisfying, easily a cliffhanger but with enough resolution that I felt fulfilled. Great read!


Things to love...


--The world. So disturbing with its potential for reality.
--The society. Whether you liked it's values or not, it was well-created and established.
--The characters. Their stories of how they ended up in the PIT showed just how easy it was to become derailed in your life.


Things I wanted more/less of...


--Eric. I just wanted to really understand his motivations.
--The story. While the ending was good, I want to know what happened next!


My Recommendation


This is a great story about resilience, human nature, and the cost of a sseemingly utopian society.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=10616
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review 2014-10-28 15:56
Son - Lois Lowry

Son is the final book in the series and, as much as I enjoyed this series, this book left me with mixed feelings. There were new characters and old, which led to both new story lines and resolutions to existing ones. But some of the messages in this one struck me as a little off.


This book is split into three sections, following several years in the life of Claire. The first part takes us back to places we have been before, going back in time a bit to about the time when Jonas' story began. As a mother, her story in this section touched me, heart and soul. The second part of the story takes place in a new society, a society in which Claire is almost as a child. It is the story of Jonas, had we been with him in his time of transition from the world that he left in The Giver until we met him again in Messenger. The third part of the story is the one that ties all of the various story lines of the series together. In this part, we remeet a lot of the characters from other books and many of the subplots are brought to the foreground.


The first three books showed us three very different utopian/dystopian worlds, worlds with different values, priorities, and issues. As someone obsessed with cultural anthopology, I loved this premise. I loved that it made me question my own thoughts and beliefs. But I felt like that was greatly lacking in this book. The society from the second section wasn't really created like the others; it was just sort of there, like a place filler. By the time she made it to the society that we first met in Messenger, that group was largely healed. There was little conflict to be seen. That came from an outside force that needed to be battled in the traditional good versus evil battle. But none of this happened until very late in the book, making the entire thing feel a bit rushed. And the conclusion itself really left me feeling a bit unfulfilled. The previous books were deep, full of questions about human nature, choices, sacrifice, priorities, and values. The conclusion just seemed rather anticlimatic and a little banal in comparison.


The other thing I had hoped for was answers. I wanted to know what happened to the other societies. Did they change? Did they get worse or better? The only one that we ever really saw any transformation in was the one of Messenger and the last portion of Son, the society of outcasts.


Things to love...


--Revisiting places and characters.
--Getting answers to some of the questions from other books.


Things I wanted more/less of...


--More depth to the resolution.
--More resolution about the other societies.


My Recommendation


While it may have been my least favorite of the series, it is still a good read and a relatively satisfying conclusion to the series. I gave it 4.5 mugs.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=10580
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review 2014-10-28 15:28
Messenger - Lois Lowry

This is the third book in The Giver series, this time centering around Matty from Gathering Blue. We revisit Jonas and Gabe in this book, too, although their part of the story is not the focus. This, too, is a new utopian/dystopian society, formed from the outcasts from other supposedly utopian societies.


There is an interesting theme of materialism in this story that says a lot about the value placed on material things. The central root of this society's problems is found in just that, the need for material goods. Many of the village's people are willing to trade away most anything for something material or superficial. This entire subplot centered around the TradeMart and the mysterious man who facilitated these trades, something that I wished was more developed.


The way that the concept of utopia versus dystopia is used is fascinating. In the first book, we had a fairly technologically advanced society, one that focused on control and order and uniformity in order to create a "utopian" society. In the second, the society was far more primitive and focused on one's viable contributions to society as valuable. Anyone less capable was cast out as deficient. In this book, society is still rather primitive, created out of nothing by those cast out from other societies. Their focus was on acceptance and open-mindedness. All three of these societies have totally different values and yet all three become less than utopian. It is that point that really makes the reader think... is human nature truly capable of creating and maintaining a utopia?


There is an ending to this book that was one that I had hoped wouldn't come to pass, but it is one that had more closure than that of The Giver.


Things to love...


--Seeing Jonas and Gabe again, as well as Matty.
--Being made to really think. I love that!


Things I wanted more/less of...


--More about the gifts. Many of the people of this society have gifts, something we learned about in the second book, but we don't really know much about how these things came to be.


My Recommendation


I think I loved this book almost as much as the first. It should definitely be read after both The Giver and Gathering Blue.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=10579
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review 2014-10-28 14:59
Gathering Blue
Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue is set in the same time frame as the first book in the series, The Giver, but in a different part of the world. Although it is a companion to the first, it is its own story. Although the world itself is very different and far more primitive, it is intriguing in its own right and full of questions.


Kira is damaged and alone in a world that hates anyone who is not in prime condition and able to contribute wholeheartedly to the community. The fact that she is even alive is a miracle, a miracle that, at first, seems to have run its course. But at the last moment, she is saved and given a new life. Much like the world of The Giver, her new life seems to be almost utopian. But is it really? This is another book that makes you look beneath the surface to see what reality truly is. What sacrifices have to be made in order to maintain that "utopian" world?


I enjoyed this book, although perhaps not as much as The Giver. I have to wonder if that is because of the differences between the two main characters. In The Giver, we (as readers) were connected to the community because Jonas was. At first, the community seemed utopian and wonderful so when we began to go beneath the surface, we felt the feelings of betrayal right along with Jonas. But in Gathering Blue, there was that true connection to the village because Kira herself wasn't truly connected to it. She was an outcast so she already existed on the fringes of the society.


Things to love...


--The different world/perspective. Two completely different societies during the same time create the foundation for interesting stories to come.


Things I wanted more/less of...


--More answers about the Council and their motivations, etc.


My Recommendation


I went into this book, assuming it was a traditional sequel. It was definitely not, but rather another look at the world of the time from an entirely different persepective. The throught-provoking questions are still there, touching on some of the same issues as the first book, as well as some new issues. But if you liked The Giver, I would highly suggest continuing on with the series. I gave this 4.5 mugs.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=10578
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review 2014-10-28 14:24
The Giver
The Giver - Lois Lowry

There is so much to love about this book, and so much that was deeply disturbing. It is a world that, on the surface, seems as uptopian as one could imagine. But is it really a utopia? There are so many aspects to the world of The Giver that, for me, are as far from utopia as humanly possible.


Much of it was reminiscent of Huxley's Brave New World. Key parts of humanity have been stripped away. Color, art, individuality, emotion. Even child birth is more of a manufactured process that is dehumanized. Social control is scary at best. But these very disturbing things are exactly what make our main character Jonas so unique and instantly sympathetic. This is a book about choices, about waking up and seeing things for what they truly are. It is about determining your own future and deciding for yourself what is the most important.


I love a book that makes me think, that makes me question my own reality. This is a book that does that. It makes you question what aspects of humanity are truly important. What would you be willing to sacrifice for a "better" world? And what would a "better" world look like? Is it worth lose wide emotional range that is an inherent part of humanity? Is it worth losing a traditional family structure?


Things to love...


--The depth of the messages.
--Jonas. He is one of the few characters that we, as readers, can truly understand.
--The world. The world of this book is intriguing.


Things I wanted more/less of...


--Resolution. What happens to Jonas? To Gabe? To the community itself?


My Recommendation


While this is technically a young adult novel, it has some rather deep themes that are just as intriguing to adults. This is an engaging read for fans of utopian/dystopian worlds.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=10573
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