Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Write Sequels Years and Years Later

So late last week, I discovered that The Giver, one of my very favorite childhood books that introduced me (and probably a lot of my contemporaries) to distopia in fiction (and probably banned books), was not, as I previously thought, a stand-alone epic amazing book, but part one of a quartet. Yes, FOUR books, people.

Original cover art- this is the book I remember reading

I had read the follow-up, Gathering Blue, just after or during the end of college, and really liked it as what I thought then was a companion book. But it was a completely different setting, and while it had similar themes, the two would never work together to create a cohesive collection. OR SO I THOUGHT.

Y'all, Lois Lowry is a genius of YA fiction. She wrote two more books, Messenger and Son that tie abso-frickin-lutely everything together in a nice, tidy THING called a story/plotline/character arc. And holy flipping everything. Plus the cover art is really interesting.

Especially amazing given the Forest themes.  This is what you miss out on when you need the Kindle version RIGHT NOW.

Messenger is just stunning because it's clearly the sequel to Gathering Blue. So you're reading and you already recognize the main characters and you're thinking, "Nicely done, Lowry. This is cute." The she throws you the bone that everyone who ever read The Giver and also had a scrap of imagination ever has wondered about their entire childhood/adolescence/young adulthood. What the freak happened to Jonas? Found him, folks! Messenger also continues introducing sliiightly more adult themes. We all know Lois Lowry does YA fiction and that's what she does. But similar to everyone's favorite Harry Potter author, she had to have realized that her audience is a lot older now.

And then came Son. Holy everything. Hold the frickin' phone. The entire series backtracks to the original Giver story and starts over from an unexpected perspective. It's done really super well. It changes your entire perspective on The Giver. It makes you run back to reference The Giver. Multiple times. Shock. Awe. Awe of the story as well as the skills of the writer.

So thanks for the master class, Lowry. 'preciate it.