scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
I had fairly high expectations for this book, and was not at all disappointed with The Giver after reading it as an adult. Lois Lowry's world-building is both subtle and thorough, creating a believable futuristic community in which the seemingly trouble-free lives of the inhabitants are tightly controlled. Everything seems harmonious at first glance, but there are cracks of course, and Jonas, the main character, finds that his eventual "assignment" involves learning about some of the more unpleasant aspects of life, so that those around him don't have to.
He has to decide what to do with his new-found knowledge, especially when the life of a child hangs in the balance. I found it to be a very compelling, layered story -- though I would definitely recommend it more to young adults and adults than middle grade even though it won the Newbery Medal (due to some violence and thematic elements).
It was another sixteen years before this became a series and Gathering Blue was published. I liked this one too, also for the similarly intriguing world-building (in a different location than Jonas's), but while I loved the characters and most of the story, I thought the plot was ultimately a bit anti-climactic. Still, the introductions to the characters and place are important for the rest of the series.
Next is The Messenger which is set in the same place as Gathering Blue (with a different main character), but helps to widen the scope of the series' world. This one is bleaker than the last, with a sad ending, but I still really liked it.
The last book, Son, is my favorite of the sequels (though I would recommend all of them) as it gradually ties all the threads of the different locations of the world together (and introduces a new one), with a good mix of new characters without forgetting the familiar ones. The characters show love and determination, and experience a wide range of difficulties and triumphs by the end.
Scrounged From: PaperbackSwap.com and our local flea market