Customer Reviews for

Gifts

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Reviewed by Lynn Crow for TeensReadToo.com

In Ursula K. Le Guin's GIFTS, the gifts in question bring more trouble than happiness to the novel's main character, sixteen-year-old Orrec. Orrec lives in the Uplands, a rough landscape where small clans squabble amongst themselves to maintain their land holdings and c...
In Ursula K. Le Guin's GIFTS, the gifts in question bring more trouble than happiness to the novel's main character, sixteen-year-old Orrec. Orrec lives in the Uplands, a rough landscape where small clans squabble amongst themselves to maintain their land holdings and cattle herds. The leader of each clan has a specific gift: a mystical power that allows them to call animals or twist human bodies with the force of their mind. Orrec is the next in line to lead his clan, and his family's gift is one of the most terrible: the undoing. His father can kill a man with a word and a gesture, and it is expected that Orrec will come into the same power. However, when Orrec's power arrives, it is wild and uncontrollable, and he must stay blind-folded to avoid harming those he loves.

The best thing about this outstanding novel is its premise. Everyone has wished at one time or another for a secret power. GIFTS forces the question: what if your having such a gift caused harm to the people around you? It gives no easy answers, exploring the issue with depth and feeling. The society and culture of the Uplanders is detailed and realistic, making the conflicts that much more powerful. Readers will quickly feel as though they've lived in this wonderful and terrifying world themselves.

As narrator, Orrec is thoughtful and questioning, with a rhythmic voice that recalls traditional story-tellers. He handles the tragedies and disappointments in his life with honesty and good humor. Despite being from a somewhat alien world, his view is very human and teens will find it easy to see through his eyes. When he is finally able to face the most disappointing truth of all, readers will cheer even as they share his pain.

GIFTS is an excellent read for teens of all interests. Fans of fantasy will be particularly drawn to it, but the world is grounded enough in earthly reality that it should appeal even to those who usually avoid the fantastical. Thought-provoking and suspenseful, with a dollop of action and romance, a novel like this is a gift to its readers.

posted by TeensReadToo on October 30, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Just couldn't get into it

What was I supposed to think when I picked this up? I hardly ever actually look inside the book and read the first page or first chapter. It's always the cover and blurb on the back of the book that makes me want to read it.

Maybe I should start reading the first pag...
What was I supposed to think when I picked this up? I hardly ever actually look inside the book and read the first page or first chapter. It's always the cover and blurb on the back of the book that makes me want to read it.

Maybe I should start reading the first page or chapter from now on?

It's written by Orrec's point of view, and when I say written, I pretty much mean exactly that. It's like an autobiography. Orrec, to me, comes across as a bit of an emo person. The way he talks about his life--of trying to learn his power, blindfolding himself for the safety of the ones he loves, listening to his mother read him stories--seems so droll. Like there's absolutely no enthusiasm in him. Ever. He's pretty much like his dad, I guess.

In fact, almost none of the characters come across as very three-dimensional beings, and maybe that's because Orrec is a blindfolded boy, unable to see anything, but able to hear what's around him. Okay, I can see (no pun intended) that, but what about before he was blindfolded? He got to know people. He knew his dad. He knew Gry. Her parents. Etc. There was still a clear lacking in the characterization department.

Um, for anyone else who'd read this, can you tell me what the plot was again? I don't think I ever caught onto that one either. Orrec never fit in, and that's what the book was supposed to be about, right? How he fit in with people who had their own powers?

The ending was just...as bland as the rest of the book.

posted by KRHolbrook on April 22, 2010

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  • Posted February 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    yay

    This story is about outcasts who are all given special powers, or "gifts." The main character, Orrec, looks forward to the day when he can use his to his full potential - but once it happens, realizes he doesn't want it quite so much after all. It's a unique fantasy story, which disturbingly believable characters. I enjoyed this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2006

    Gifts was Great

    Overall, Gifts was an excellent book to read. The plot was fast moving, suspenseful, and has several exciting twists. The description in this book was amazing. It described everything in great detail, without being excessive and boring. The choice of words just made the Here is a quote showing the typical descriptions: ¿At last dismal little groups of boys and women came driven through the streets to the marketplace, two here and three there, weeping and pleading, some even crawling on their hands and knees, goaded forward by whips and kicks.¿ The author¿s phrasing in the book is also very good. She words sentences so that it is very easy to understand and read. Take this sentence as an example: ¿To Lowlanders, the Uplands are accursed, forgotten corn of a world they left behind long ago.¿ This could have been a very confusing statement, but Le Guin simplifies it without losing any effect. Like most authors, Le Guin uses foreshadowing. However, she does not use enough to ruin what is going to happen later in the book, it is just enough to make you want to keep reading. This is an example of her foreshadowing that Orrec does not have the gift: ¿The snake was unmade when I saw it,¿ Canoc said. `But you-¿ He frowned, though not in anger. `It was you that struck it,¿ he said.¿ Another thing that makes this book so good was feeling so close to the characters. When something was wrong with a character, I felt bad for them. This really humanized the story, not like some books where it is obvious you are just reading a book. This is an example of when I felt bad for Orrec and his father when his mother/wife passed away: ¿For him, there was no replacement the sweetness of his life was gone.¿ Those were just a few of the ways that this book was such a good read. I think that anyone who read this book would enjoy it, but some more than others. I would mainly focus on young adults, both boys and girls, as people who would especially enjoy this. The book deals with a lot of adolescence problems, like being accepted, and having boyfriends/girlfriends. I don¿t think younger readers would understand the more in-depth things happening in the plot, but they would get the main points. If there were any adults who really like fantasy, this would also be a good book for you. I would truly recommend this book knowing that anyone would like this book, and it would become an instant favorite.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2006

    READ IT

    This book was magnificent! Ursula K. Le Guin is one of my favorite authors and she hasn't let me down yet. IF you like Sci fi and fantasy put this on your reading list.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2012

    Le Guin gives in another opening to a series.

    I haven't read the other books in the series yet, but this is a great opening and reminded me of how well fleshed out Earthsea was. The way the story is told is sort of ... odd, but in the end it works out well enough. There's also an odd twist, which I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not it was acceptable. Much like her other books, Gifts is all about the characters, and you can't help but love (and hate) all of them. The main character is probably the only one where it's left to you to really decide if you like them or not. I'm anxious to read the next book, just hope it's a little longer.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A beautiful coming-of-age story

    A young boy strives to be like his father, to be worth his father's love. In his world this doesn't just mean following his father's career, but inheriting his magical skill (his Gifts) as well. Orrec strives so hard to be the perfect son, but learns there's more to life. "To thine own self be true" says the old, our-world adage. And "Love your neighbor as yourself." But Orrec must learn to love himself before he can be sure he won't be a danger to his neighbor: The first of Ursual Le Guin's Gifts series, and a really enjoyable book.

    Disclosure: I bought this one then I had to buy the rest of the series.

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  • Posted September 27, 2009

    Easy Reading

    This book presents no challenges to the reader, but is great for a simple mindless read, great for a few hours of escape into the pages. This one is also unique to the early book in the series in that this one helps one realize, as the main character does through her experiences, that no all change has to be gotten through bloody warfare.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2006

    A great read

    This book kept my attention! It took me all of a day and a half to read, which says something! I really enjoyed it and would reccomend it to anyone who likes the genre.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2006

    Great Book!

    I loved this book. it was so sad, but very captivating.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2005

    A Very Well-Written Book

    Some parts were slow or sad, but I found it very interesting and satisfying to read. Recommended to all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2004

    pretty good

    gets you very interested very quickly, while later on in the book you need to be more careful to pick up some of the details.

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