I am amazed at my luck finishing this book on Good Friday. The banishment of Evil and the powers of Evil over mankind in this book mirror my Easter beliefs of Christ banishing the effects of Evil forever with the Atonement and Resurrection.
This book DOES bring everything and everyone full circle. I only have one big question that was left unanswered-but it was about the Community in which Jonas grew up in and not relevant to the characters we know and love from the series. So I understand why it's not there, but I do still wonder about them....
Anyhow, the time frame of this book is also different. The other three have been sequential and chronological. This one is different, but I don't want to say how, because the mind blowing event when I figured it out was incredible, and I want everyone else to figure that out too.
The other difference is that this one is in split narrative looking in at different characters from their vantage point. This was definitely necessary, but I became concerned with the characters that were NOT the current voice sometimes and felt like I needed to know what they were thinking but couldn't.
We meet one new "main" protagonist, and that is Claire. She opens the book with her experience in the Community, having been assigned "Birthmother" at her Ceremony of Twelve. And my hunch of conception being through artificial insemination was solidified. The Pills that everyone takes seems to take away any human nature characteristic towards caring for one another in any more than a superficial way, along with other tactics are how Birthmother's are prevented from becoming attached to their Product (the baby, is ALWAYS referred to as the Product, given a number and referred to as an It for the Birthmother's sake). Through a series of very unusual events, Claire ends up fleeing the Community, making her the 3rd person we're aware of who has left that particular populace, since we know Jonas fled with Gabe in The Giver. I can't say WHY Claire leaves without spoiling it, so I won't.
Claire leaves by boat, though, and somehow ends up washed ashore in a different community, a rather simple one without electricity or anything, and she has no memory of anything but her name. She meets Alys, an older woman who knows of medicinal herbs and does the midwifing for the women. She has never married or had children of her own and takes Claire in as a daughter until Claire remembers more and needs to move on.
Trademaster makes a re-appearance. He was banished from Jonas' new dwelling community-after Matty relinquished his life in order to heal the earth and all the people from the Evil that had taken over. But he makes a trade that is more cruel than any we've seen so far. The only person who can stop him is Gabe. Yay! Gabe is back in the picture! He's been thriving in the community Jonas brought him to, although growing up in a society where families love one another, he can't comprehend the society Jonas saved him from and feels incomplete not knowing anything about his mother. He too, has a gift, but his is one of empathy and understanding. He calls it "veering" when he veers into another, he sees and feels things as that person does. For instance, he recalls an instance when he veered into Mentor, the school teacher and upon feeling Mentor's passion of learning, knowledge, and love of his students and desire for them to succeed, and from that time forth put much better effort into his studies. Basically, Gabe could know and feel EXACTLY what you know and feel about anything and therefore have a PERFECT knowledge and understanding of what you are going through. Perfect empathy. Using this ability to gain understanding an insight, he is the only hope for permanently banishing Evil for his community and reversing any remaining damages.
Being Christian, I immediately drew parallels from Christ and Gabe. Whether this was intentional or not, on the part of the author, I don't know. But I do know that it was very meaningful for me and my belief set. Christ does not have to "veer" into us, but in the Garden of Gethsemane, he DID experience a similar process, although we cannot begin to comprehend how, where He experienced ALL of EVERY HUMAN BEINGS physical and emotional pains, sufferings, elations, happiness, sorrow, sins, guilt, success, embarrassment, adulation, depression, grief, any emotion you can think of, He experienced it there. Why? So He could have a perfect understanding and knowledge of what we have been, are going through, or ever will encounter. He even knew Evil-Satan, and understood the anguish of a damned soul, enough to pity him, but not enough to let him take over humankind. If we accept Christ as the vanquisher of Evil, then Evil will have no place in our hearts and "no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo" (Helaman 5:12) Through the power of the atonement, any thing Evil in our lives CAN be reversed. Leave no trace. Come now, and let us
I am more than satisfied with the ending. The people had vanquished Evil before and rebuilt a better community-and the most important part-they did so WILLINGLY and WITHOUT FORCE. You cannot force people to be good or to be charitable or giving or welcoming. It must be a choice. Otherwise it's not genuine. But sometimes we cannot vanquish Evil from our presence permenantly all on our own. We need someone else. Someone who is not only willing, but able. Someone with a gift and the purpose to do so.
While this book was longer than the others, and at times seemed frustrating and a bit slow, every bit in there was necessary to build the story, to make everything more poignant. There are parts that are horrifying and parts that are healing. It was absolutely beautiful and full of hope. Have a GOOD Good Friday to all!