Son: The Giver, Book 4 Book Poster Image

Son: The Giver, Book 4

Classic battle pulls quest quartet to exciting conclusion.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will learn a bit about fish hatcheries from the description of Claire's duties there, as well as boat building from Gabe's research. Mostly, though, The Son will encourage kids to think about what special gifts they have and how they can help the world by developing those talents.

Positive messages

The take-away message is that even the least likely individuals can become heroic if they find, develop, and trust special strengths in themselves. And they can make their world a better place for all. Choosing momentary happiness and shallow pleasure is short-lived and costly. The best bet is to be honest, good, and, even when faced with stiff odds, willing to fight threatening forces. That's what ultimately wins out over evil.

Positive role models

Main characters Claire, Jonas, and Gabe, as well as several other prominent characters, are thoughtful, selfless, honest, and heroic. When they  find themselves in worlds they don't like, they're driven to make a difference. Claire risks everything to find her son, Jonas uses his wisdom and strength to guide Gabe, and once Gabe learns to believe in his special gift, he ventures out alone to confront the evil that threatens the world in which they all live.


Sinister forces that take away personal freedoms and choices loom in all of the worlds, but the Trademaster in the Beyond is the personification of evil. In his long black cloak and mysterious presence strolling the cliffs and dark forest, he's a classical gothic representation of the devil. He cuts off one man's feet, robs Claire of her youth, and nearly kills Gabe in a sword fight. Claire undergoes a caeserian section, which isn't described, washes up on shore after a shipwreck, and is mauled by an eagle.


At 12, Claire's appointed to be a birth mother, also called a vessel. Vessels are hooded during delivery so they don't see their products (as babies are called) or form an attachment to them. Because of complications, Claire's product is delivered by caesarian. She's considered a failure, and the product is suspect. Every person in the community other than the vessels is given pills so they don't have sexual feelings and are impotent. Later Claire works at a fish hatchery where eggs are artificially inseminated. 

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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Son concludes the quartet that began with Lois Lowry's Newbery award-winning book The Giver and continued through Gathering Blue and  Messenger. All have strong positive messages about how honorable, determined youths learn to use their personal gifts either to escape or mend their dystopian societies. This story begins when Claire is assigned to be a birth mother, otherwise called a "vessel," at age 12, and she undergoes a caesarian section a couple of years later. Later in the book, several characters confront and make trades with the Trademaster, a black-cloaked, violent personification of pure evil. One character's feet are cut off. 

What's the story?

The Son begins as Claire's story, then interweaves with the stories of Jonas, Kira, and Matt (of the previous three books in the quartet), and ends as her son Gabe's story. All are heroic quests of different sorts that deal with similar themes of an unlikely hero confronting or escaping evil. As a young girl, Claire's selected to be a "vessel" -- to bear children for the community. She's not thrilled with the idea and doesn't really understand what it's all about. When her "product" (child) has to be delivered by caesarian section, she's considered a failure and is reasssigned to work in the fish hatchery. But one mistake is made: The community doesn't restart her on the pills given to all the nonvessels to make them impotent and passionless. She's driven to find her child and hopes to escape with him. But he disappears before she can effect a plan. Nevertheless, she takes off, hoping to find him. Eventually, after an arduous journey, she makes a deal with the Trademaster, a black-cloaked, violent personification of pure evil and finds Gabe, but her deal will make things complicated. Then it becomes Gabe's story, which pulls all four books together in a final confrontation with the ultimate force of evil.

Is it any good?


SON is adventurous, exciting, and very engaging, especially the second and third sections. Some readers may not enjoy the beginning chapters that describe Claire's experience in the birthing facility as much as the later parts, where she finds her strength, builds on it, and takes off on her quest journey. From then on, through Gabe's final confrontation with the Trademaster, the action and intrigue don't stop.

While author Lois Lowry uses many classic images, she adds enough creative twists to make the stories unique. And she masterfully pulls all the stories together to make her larger point about the importance of personal freedom, the strength of love, and the value of believing in yourself. Readers will understand and enjoy The Son more if they have read each of the other three books in The Giver quartet beforehand, though it could stand on its own.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various trades that people made in the book. Do you think any of them made sense? Could Claire have done anything else? What kinds of trades would you be willing to make? 

  • Son is the fourth book in a quartet. Do you think Books 2, 3, and 4 added to the story of The Giver and made it better? Is it what you expected would happen? Do you appreciate knowing the conclusion? 

  • Why do you think it's so important for Gabe to face the Trademaster alone? Can you think of other stories where a small but innocent and good hero dares to confront a mighty foe who seems to have all the power and weapons? 

Book details

Author:Lois Lowry
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:October 2, 2012
Number of pages:400
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 18
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Satisfying but not terrific

Yeah, a fourth book in The Giver series. Kids and adults are sure to love this additional book, reuniting Gabriel, Jonah and Kira, and meeting Gabriel's birthmother, Claire. In the first part of three in the book, we're back at the time The Giver was told, only now through the eyes of Claire. Part 2, "Between," we read of Claire after leaving the Community in search of Gabriel. In Part 3, all are united in the conclusion. Although it's not the story I was hoping for, I know many will be satisfied, certainly more so than from Gathering Blue and Messenger. I wanted more exploration of the reactions from Claire and Jonah to the awakenings in their new world, how "sameness" and a loss of choice backfires and does not bring happiness. The book does not take the angle I'd hoped, but is satisfying nonetheless.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written byCarter Rose April 13, 2013

My Alltime Favorite book!

This is my favorite book of all time, and I read a lot of books! Dont read this book unless you have read all the books before it. It perfectly sums up all of the loose ends from the other books. A heartwarming story about a mother's search for her lost son. This is a must read!
Kid, 12 years old July 9, 2013

My second-favorite book, some iffy stuff, okay for mature kids!

Well, first there's Claire giving birth, getting on a ship (that part's short but intense), losing her memory, and helping with dying and/or injured/sick people. THEN she climbs a cliff, nearly falls, gets mauled by a seagull (twice), and gets turned old by Mr. Trademaster himself, who also cut off another character's feet. Gabe-yes, the baby from The Giver-builds a boat, but it doesn't work! Old Claire is dying, so Gabe has to face the Trademaster on his own. That's all the violence I can remember. Either way, it's a GREAT conclusion! If you hated The Giver, which some people do, don't ever read this book, because Son is a sequel to it!