“Son,” which is written in three parts, is the finale of a quartet that also includes “Gathering Blue” and “Messenger.” The first and strongest section retells the events of “The Giver” from the viewpoint of Claire, who was 12 when she was “assigned” the position of birth mother. She must produce three babies, which will be handed over to families by the Council of Elders. (Lowry is very skillful at avoiding descriptions that are too detailed for her audience, but the horror of Claire’s situation is clear.)
Something goes wrong during the birth, and, for some reason, Claire isn’t put back on the numbing pills everyone over the age of 12 takes daily. Desperate to find her baby, she sneaks visits to the Nurturing Center and then makes a desperate escape to follow her son.
The second section of the novel shifts from the black-and-white, sterile world of the city to a fishing village, complete with color and birds, that takes in Claire after she washes ashore. While it loses the momentum built up in the first section, the second has its own pleasures. But then the third and weakest section sidelines Claire to reunite readers with Jonas, Gabe, and other characters from earlier novels for a metaphysical standoff against personified evil from “The Messenger.”
Ultimately, “Son” is not equal to “The Giver” – but then, few YA books are.
Music hasn’t been outlawed in Goblin Secrets, William Alexander’s first novel – which came out of nowhere to win the National Book Award in November – but acting is absolutely forbidden in Zombay.
Rownie’s older brother, Rowan, defied the ban and disappeared months earlier with the Guard in hot pursuit, leaving Rownie to the not-so-tender mercies of Graba, a Baba Yaga-like figure who collects “grandchildren” to run errands for her. While off to fetch oil for Graba’s clockwork bird legs, Rownie stumbles on a goblin troupe performing a play, complete with masks and puppets, and runs off to join the troupe.
As Rownie discovers, acting has a magic of its own. By playing a hero, he becomes one.