The Giver is a science fiction novel about life in a highly structured, future society where all the physical and emotional challenges in life have systematically been eliminated. The safety and security of the people are ensured by regimented ignorance enforced by a form of government reminiscent of "Big Brother from George Orwell's 1984. No one has to make difficult choices or to even be aware there are such choices. The plot centers around Jonas, who has been chosen to be the successor to the Giver, the one member of the society who still knows and remembers all the pain, the wonder, and the triumph of life before. As the apprentice to the Giver, Jonas learns many truths that no one else knows about life in his society. He must then decide what to do with this knowledge.
With Gathering Blue, Lowry continues the dystopic theme set by The Giver, painting a much different, but equally disturbing future. Something terrible has gone wrong, throwing a once sophisticated culture back to a near primitive state. The past is so distant and alien that extraordinary measures must be taken to preserve the history and traditions of the people in the hopes that they will once again rise to greatness. Like Jonas in The Giver, the young protagonist of Gathering Blue is chosen to be the agent of that social memory and must find ways to overcome isolation and the loss of a loved one.