OK, what did you think happened at the end of The Giver? If you haven’t read that book and you want to, you probably shouldn’t read any further. You were warned.
I was sure that Jonas and Gabe died in the snow — that the house with the lights was a trick of Jonas’s imagination as he succumbed to hypothermia. I guess I’m a bit of a pessimist, then? However, Lois Lowry answers this question in her FAQ:
What happened at the end of THE GIVER?
I made the ending ambiguous on purpose. “Ambiguous” means that it can have different explanations. I like to leave it that way so that each reader can use his or her imagination and decide what is happening. But I do think it is a happy ending.
I fail to see how Lowry might consider Jonas and Gabe dying a “happy ending,” so that must mean the light was real and they were rescued. I did some digging online and found out that there is now a trilogy. I had heard of Gathering Blue, but not Messenger. With the teaser that Gathering Blue mentions Jonas in an oblique way and that he would be a character in Messenger, I decided to pick up these two books.
I have just finished Gathering Blue. I think overall that it is a weaker story than The Giver, which I enjoyed much more. This novel, like The Giver, is set in some future time after an apparent nuclear holocaust. In Kira’s village, people live in primitive fashion — disabled people are left to die in “the Field,” children are abused, and mysterious “beasts” lurk in the woods and will attack anyone who strays too far.
Kira has a gift for needlework and is spared death despite the fact that she has a physical disability. When her mother dies, the Council of Guardians taps her for a special job — she will restore and complete the Singer’s robe. Like the Giver in the first book, the Singer memorized the account of life up to and through the Ruin, when man was nearly destroyed.
I did not find that I sympathized as much with these characters as I did the characters in The Giver. I think I just identified more with Jonas. I could “see” the setting in The Giver. The contrast between a supposedly civlized society with barbaric practices — Release — seemed much more poignant. It was much easier to imagine Kira’s society did awful things to its citizens when they themselves treated each other so poorly on a regular basis.
Still, if you want to be reassured about Jonas, you’ll probably want to read this bridge book so you can understand Messenger — my next project.