Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry
How the world ends: An unspecified Ruin, involving fire and the fall of tall buildings
After this particular end of the world, the characters have lost quite a lot: not only the basics of technology, but also the basics of human kindness; the world they live in is exceedingly harsh, though they don’t know this. The protagonist, Kira, is a weaver. She’s nearly killed as a child on account of her lame leg (one rarely keeps damaged children; everyone agrees there are too many children as it is), but is later singled out by the town’s Guardians to help repair the Singer’s Robe, which tells the history of her (our) people, going all the way back to the start of time, when we first made our way from water onto land. There are other artists who’ve been similarly singled out–a carver who works on the Singer’s Staff, a successor to the Singer himself, whose job it will one day be to tell the story. Behind it all lurks the dark wood, where unspecified beasts attack men without warning, which keeps them all from leaving the town or seeing the wider world. That wider world is important for many reasons, including that somewhere, out there, is another lost thing–the plants from which one can create a dye for the color blue, one more thing that’s been lost.
I loved many of the elements of this book, though ultimately the end didn’t quite gel for me and the prose seemed a little flat. Which, as I recall, was also my reaction to The Giver, which is apparently set in the same world, though in a very different town. Still, this was interesting enough that I’ll seek out Messenger, a third book in that world.