I went into this book thinking that I would get an answer to the cliffhanger ending of The Giver. Was Jonas and Baby Gabriel safe? Or was it the final delusions of a dying kid? Well, I was sorely disappointed when the book opened to depict a society completely different from the Community. What was the connection? Well, I just decided to go ahead and enjoy the book on its merits and not as a sequel. Kira lives in a mainly hunter-gatherer society (with a little backyard agriculture) where survival of the fittest is paramount. It’s a tough world and physical weakness is not tolerated in fact, the weak and people with disabilities are left in a field to die. The story opens with Kira mourning for her mother in their dumpsite for the dead. Kira is lame in one leg and her mother, an influential person in their village, protected her when her defective leg should have meant certain death. Her dad is thought of to be dead from a hunting accident when she was still a baby so it was just her and her mother. Upon her mother’s death, her position in the tribe is threatened by the other stronger tribemates who wanted her land. Fortunately, she is saved by her talent in embroidering. The Council of Guardians appointed her to become the official embroiderer, meant to dedicate her life to repairing a cape which depicts the history of their people. Of humankind. In the surprisingly modern building (there’s running water!) where Kira is housed along with the official carver and the trainee singer, she learns more about history and the inner workings of her village.
I didn’t really see the connection between this book and The Giver until almost the end of the book. ****SPOILERS***** Kira’s friend, a poor (even for her village’s standards) boy named Matt ran away to find color blue thread for Kira’s embroidery. He end up in a village where it turns out took in all the handicapped and physically deformed people from their village who were left for dead. One of those people was Kira’s father who had become blind and was not, in fact dead. He came back for Kira and asked her to return with him to the Utopian village but Kira wanted to make things in her village better and declined. But anyway, Matt mentioned that the leader of the village was a young guy with pale eyes. Oh hello Jonas! But it was only in passing. ****END SPOILERS****
The structure of this book is quite like the Giver, in some way. There is a society which you initially would not think to be the future. In this case, however, the society is not initially presented as utopia but it is quite clear that times were bad and things had turned primitive. Like, the Giver, there is a young person chosen for a special job, one in which they learn about the past and their eyes are opened to how bad the society they are living in is. They also attempt to do something to try to make the world a better place. Jonas by leaving, any Kira by staying. Unfortunately, like The Giver, I also found Gathering Blue to be simplistic and kind of childish. It also has the added disadvantage of the mythology, the society not being as interesting to me as in the Giver. It was really just ok for me (I know, I'm starting to sound like Randy Jackson).