By: Lois Lowry
This book, like The Garden of Eve, is technically a children’s book. I say “technically”, because I feel it is the kind of story where one can find meaning, regardless of age, making this kind of classification irrelevant. For me, it read like a short story, having that slightly unbalanced feeling, from thrown into a world without any real introduction, and only seeing a part of it. All we get to know is Village and Forest, with a little second hand knowledge of the world beyond.
I liked the story…up until the ending. I will do my best not to give anything away, but there is a sacrifice involved that I deemed unfair, not unfair because there was a sacrifice, but because I felt it didn’t really address the underlying problem. It seemed to me that the villagers who traded the best parts themselves to become changed for selfish and superficial purposes did not truly learn anything in the end. Who is to say this whole problem wouldn’t happen again? Who will save them next time? So I felt that the character’s sacrifice was wasted.
I feel that fiction, especially children’s literature, should focus on hope and possibility, because in fiction anything is possible, rather than ominously warning them about the darker side of human nature. Granted, bad must exist in order to balance good, but this story just didn’t feel all that balanced to me.
Aside from the ending, I would have also wanted to know more about Village, Forest, the world beyond, and especially how Trademaster was able to do what he did. Where did he come from? Considering how much trouble his presence caused, it would have been nice to have more information. However, I understand that all those details were not necessarily the point, and like a short story, it was focused on its message rather than detail. Curiosity being my weakness, I wanted to know more.
Would I recommend it? I don’t know… Honestly the ending kind of ruined it for me and I felt like a lot of the conflict wasn’t truly resolved. While Lois Lowry is a Newbery Medal winning author, I’m pretty neutral on this one. Perhaps her writing is just not my style.
***After writing all of this I just discovered that this is the last book of a trilogy, and it is possible that the other books would have given me the detail I was missing in this one. Although it might compound my issues with the ending, unless I’m missing something. If you disagree with me please leave a comment and let me know. Until next time…