Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This social science/dystopian novel written by Lois Lowry is the fourth book in " The Quartet," published by Walter Lorraine Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Son is written for ages 12 and up. Age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Fourteen-year-old Claire is a Vessel, a girl chosen to be implanted with a child, who will, about a year after its delivery, be given to a married couple to raise. The process does not go smoothly for Claire, and the medical staff is forced to cut the Product from her body. She is removed from the Birthmother Dormitory and sent to work among the Fish Hatcheries, as it is determined that she will not be able to deliver another child without complications. Before she leaves the area, she is able to discover that her child, number 36, was a boy and did survive birth.

Claire struggles to fit in with others in the Fish Hatchery. Although she enjoys the work and the people, she is haunted by thoughts of her son. Eventually, she tracks him down in the Nurturing Center. She volunteers to help with the babies in her free time so she can be near her son. One of the workers at the facility regularly takes 36 home at night, hoping that the added stimulation will help the child. It also allows the other babies a better night's sleep because 36 cries throughout the night. Claire develops a kind of friendship with the Nurturer who does this, learning his habits so she can "bump" into him as he takes 36 on errands or to his home.

It is on one of those meetings that she learns 36 was not given to a couple to raise, but will be spending more time at the Nurturing Center to see if he can acclimate to society. Claire also learns the Nurturer has a boy named Jonas who will soon be going through the Selection Ceremony. At 12, all children are given their occupations in the Community. After the Ceremony, Claire is told that a boy named Jonas was not given his Assignment. Instead, he was selected. Claire's friends don't understand what he was selected for. They tell her that it has something to do with a Giver and a Receiver.

Claire wonders why she is the only person who seems to have an emotional attachment to her son. He is all she can think about. She never remembers feeling these emotions for anyone else or receiving them from her parents in the past. She realizes it has something to do with the pills everyone else takes daily. Claire used to take the pills, but was ordered to stop while she was a Vessel. Due to an oversight, she was never put back on the medication.

She continues to volunteer at the Nurturing Center. She discovers that 36 will be given the name "Abe" when he is finally assigned. However, as the next ceremony approaches, one of the Nurturers at the Center tells her that Abe will not be placed in a home. The Nurturer refuses to tell Claire what will happen to the boy, but he does tell her that the child's name isn't Abe. That night, sirens sound. Claire's memories are disjointed, but she can recall seeing the Nurturer on a path calling for his son, Jonas. He tells Claire that Jonas has taken the baby and run away. Distraught and confused, Claire runs toward one of the boats in the river. A kind woman takes her aboard when Claire explains that someone has taken her baby. They promise to help her find him. But the ship is torn apart in a storm. Claire manages to survive, but she loses her memory.

Claire finds a home in a new village with Alys, an elderly woman with herbal knowledge. The village is virtually impenetrable, surrounded on three sides by water and on the fourth by a sheer rock cliff. Only one man, Fierce Einar, has climbed it. But Einar has returned to the village, maimed and in pain. Now the young man, just 18, is known as Lame Einar. He no longer fishes with the other men but tends to the sheep in the village.

Claire is a mystery to Alys. The girl seems well educated, but doesn't know her colors or any animals. Alys teaches her about each and how to use herbs to help the sick. When Claire attends a birthing, she flashes on the memory of her own labor. Many in the town are shocked that she, an unmarried woman, had a baby. They don't understand that in Claire's former community, the mothers were impregnated with needles, not by having sex. Once Claire remembers her child, she vows she will find him again.

Lame Einar promises to help her to scale the rock cliff to leave, as she is terrified to go by sea. It takes years of training, in which Einar strengthens both her mind and her body for the arduous task. He also warns her that should she make it to the top of the cliff, she must wait for a mysterious caped man. When that man comes, she must tell him of her one desire. He will offer to trade her something for it. Whatever he wants for the trade, she must agree to it. If not, the man will take revenge. When Einar had refused the man's offer for warmth and comfort after his long climb, the man struck Einar down and cut off half of his right and left feet. That is why the young man returned to his village.

When Claire is finally ready, she leaves the village before dawn and begins to scale the cliff. She encounters many difficulties, including a sea gull protecting her young that pecks and bites Claire as she nears the top of the cliff. At sunset, she reaches the top. She throws down a rock covered in red yarn as a sign to Einar and Alys that she's survived the climb.

At dawn, the strange man appears, just as Einar has said he would. He calls Claire by name. She stands her ground against him, even though he smells foul and is sinister. When she asks that he help find her son, he sneers at her maternal love, but he does make her an offer. He will bring her to her son if she will give him her youth. Claire agrees. Even as she follows the man, her body weakens and her hair grays. The man laughs and tells her that his name is Trademaster and her son's name is Gabe.

Gabe, a young teenager, has spent his life in a village of survivors. Jonas brought him there. Jonas, a man formerly known in the village as Leader, brought him when they were both children. Gabe is embarrassed about his mysterious past. He longs to find his mother, even though Jonas assures him that in their old Community babies really don't have parents. They more or less appeared from the infant-care building and were given to a couple. Now Gabe sets himself to making a boat so that he can sail down the river and hopefully find his mother. He often senses that an old woman is watching him, but he is too shy to ask the woman who she is or what she wants.

Jonas and his wife, Kira, have special powers. Jonas can push his thoughts out and see things in faraway places. Kira can use her embroidery to predict the future. Jonas worries about Gabe, knowing that his search for his mother will be futile. Jonas tells Kira that he senses someone is watching the boy, waiting for him. He believes the person is friendly, so he waits to tell Gabe about his feelings.

As the village prepares for a feast, Gabe recalls the life of his friend Matty. Gabe was 8 when Matty's torn body had been carried in from the forest. The older boy had always been kind to Gabe, teaching him how to fish and fly a kite. Matty sacrificed his life for the villagers, releasing them from the power of the Trademaster. The mysterious man had corrupted the village and, after Matty's death, they vowed to turn from temptation and greed. Instead, they would be kinder and more helpful to each other. Matty had told Gabe to be more attentive at school and learn as much as he could, because one day he would discover he had a gift. Matty had the gift of healing.

Gabe does indeed have a power. He calls it veering. It allows him to place his consciousness into other people so he can hear their thoughts. Once, when he wanted to cheat on a test, he veered into Mentor's thoughts. Instead of seeing the answers, he saw how much his teacher loved his students and his passion to see them succeed. The process exhausted Gabe, but Mentor's thoughts changed him. He vowed he would stop misbehaving and study hard so he wouldn't disappoint Mentor again. Gabe isn't sure how to use this gift or whether he should, so he doesn't tell anyone about it.

Claire watches Gabe in silence. When she first came to the village, she thought about revealing her identity, but changed her mind. He'd been a young boy of 8. She didn't think he would understand. Although her mind is that of a young woman, her body is that of an elderly person.

Several years later, Claire knows she is dying. She worries about Gabe's obsession with his boat. The water has caused her nothing but pain, and she fears it will take her son from her. She decides to tell Jonas her story so he may one day share it with Gabe.

As difficult as her story is to believe, Jonas accepts it as truth, especially after she mentions her deal with Trademaster. They realize they must try and tell Gabe everything. Gabe has finished his boat and set sail down the river. Gabe uses a paddle Jonas made for him to try and steer the boat. It sinks in the current, but his friends pull him to shore. Gabe vows to keep working on it.

Jonas takes Gabe home and tries to explain about Trademaster's power and evil. Although Gabe remembers some of what occurred in the village in the past, he doesn't comprehend the true wickedness in the man's deals. Jonas then tells Gabe about his gift to see beyond. Jonas worries that it is leaving him, but he will try to use it one more time so that he can find Trademaster.

Once the evil is found, Gabe must use the powers he has to destroy it. Gabe worries about Jonas's sanity. Although this Trademaster may be evil, he is no longer a threat to the village, so why should he be killed?

The following day, Gabe finds Jonas in Claire's hut. The old woman is dying. She begs Jonas to tell Gabe her story. Jonas does, but Gabe doesn't believe it. Jonas takes him to speak with Mentor. He convinces the teacher to tell of his dealings with Trademaster.

Mentor longed to remarry after his wife died, but he was older and had an odd red birthmark on his face. Trademaster asked for Mentor's honor in exchange for youth and beauty. Mentor lost the birthmark, stood straighter and grew hair to cover his bald spot. But the woman he desired spurned him because he'd become selfish and mean. He had traded his honor for nothing. When Matty sacrificed himself for the village, all of the Trademaster's bargains were reversed.

Gabe realizes that the story Jonas told him about Claire is true. He must destroy the Trademaster in order to save his mother. Gabe confronts Trademaster on the far side of the river. The cloaked man scoffs at the boy, but Gabe stands his ground. Trademaster holds a large knife to Gabe's throat. The boy knows he has no hope of defeating this evil with weapons. Trademaster is too powerful.

Gabe veers into his enemy and discovers the truth. Trademaster is no mortal, but a powerful force that feeds off the corruption of the world around him. It is that which sustains him. Gabe uses the knowledge he has, how Mentor is free from Trademaster's curse, the fact that Einer, though crippled, has lived a good life and been loved by a beautiful woman and how Claire gave up everything to find her son. Now that Gabe knows the truth, he declares that he and his mother will love each other always. With each proclamation of hope and bad things working out for good, Trademaster weakens until he disappears.

Jonas falls asleep while holding vigil by Claire's deathbed. At dawn, her bed is empty. He finds Claire restored to her younger self. She stands in the doorway, watching the morning break through the clouds. She tells Jonas that she sees the sun. He looks past her, and sees Gabe walking toward the hut.

Christian Beliefs

None, although the biblical principle of good triumphing over evil through sacrifice is woven throughout the story.

Other Belief Systems

Certain characters have paranormal gifts. Matty was to heal things. Jonas can project his consciousness to other places. Kira can show possible futures through her embroidery, and Gabe can place his consciousness into other people. All these characters use their powers for good. Trademaster has the power to steal people's health, youth and personalities. He gains power by feeding off the evil and sadness he causes.

Authority Roles

In the village where Claire and Jonas grew up, children were cared for by parents, but not loved. Claire demonstrates a mother's undying love for her child. She gives up everything to be restored to her son. Jonas, the leader of the village, is a kind and wise man. He seems to have an unconditional love for all of the members of his town. Mentor is willing to reveal a sordid story of his past in order to teach Gabe about Trademaster's powers. Einer tells of how his father blamed him for his mother's death, beating him and withholding his love.


Claire is blindfolded and tied down when she gives birth. It is a frightening and painful procedure until she is given medicine for the Cesarean. Claire thinks she is being carved. Alys tells how she's seen wounded fishermen and hunters who have bled to death in pain. She tells Claire about their screams.

Einer's father had wanted to throw him into the fire but was stopped by Alys. He would kick Einer and laugh when the boy got tangled in the ropes on his boat. Einer once fell and broke his arm. His father made him keep working.

Trademaster holds a large knife to Gabe's throat. Gabe veers into Trademaster and sees the pain of loneliness he has endured because of his need to destroy and corrupt. Gabe defeats him by speaking of the lives that Trademaster failed to destroy — Mentor's, Einer's and Claire's. Trademaster wails in pain as he dissolves to nothing.


The fact that Claire had a child without being married is scandalous to many in the seaside village. One man, who had hoped to marry her, shuns her when he learns of her past, even though the baby had been implanted in her womb. He tells her that women who couple in the fields without marriage are stained. Einer explains that the sheep that coupled in the fields made new lambs. Einer says he was a wife to his abusive father in ways too horrible to mention. Claire and Einer share a kiss before she leaves the village.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at ThrivingFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Drugs: The people in Jonas' and Claire's old village were given medication to keep them from feeling emotions.

This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!