The Giver by Lois Lowry

Posted August 30, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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The Giver

The Giver

by Lois Lowry

Series: The Giver #1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 26, 1993
Genre: Classics, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

 

The Giver is such an easy to read, creative piece of dystopia literature.  I’ve read this before, but many, many years ago… in elementary or middle school, I think.  It’s been at least half my life if not more.  I remembered aspects of it, especially the lack of color, but I think it was interesting to revisit this as an adult with a better sense of the real state of the world.

The strongest dystopian aspect of this novel is the concept of Sameness.  The people of the community not only have concepts of things such as race removed, but also colors, emotions, and even weather.  One of the most interesting things about dystopian novels is that, when done well, they should make your dig into the elements that make them a dystopia.  Jonas understands the need for Sameness… at first… but the more cultural memories he receives, the more he learns about the price the community paid.

And it’s interesting to talk about, particularly when we talk about systemic racism and violence in the current climate and accountability for privilege.  What if, scientifically, perception of race could be removed?  What if the depth of true emotion, the kind that inspires extreme action, could be stripped away as a cultural level.  Lowry argues that society would be peaceful and productive.  But at what cost?  The loss of art, expression, cultural experience, and individuality.  Does this make a better world? A worse one?

We learn about the characters mostly through their reactions to certain situations.  While Jonas, the new Receiver of Memory, is at the forefront of The Giver, we also see how the weight of knowing – and the freedom of not knowing – has affected the two paternal figures in his life.  Additionally, we learn about the value of lives based the values of the contributions, so in reality, there’s not a true sense of indifference.  Even though society has tried to stamp out prejudice, it hasn’t quite succeeded.  The citizens may be more indifferent to extreme actions like murder and suicide, but but they are not untouched by superiority… just unburdened by the consequences of their actions.

It’s interesting.  At its core, this book is very interesting.  And there’s so much to think about in regards to the value and consequences of different aspects of our society. I think Lowry has imagined it well.  And it’s such a short book as well to pack so much information, so much food for thought.  It’s accessible and enjoyable for younger age groups, but still thought-provoking for adults.

The ending, however, is exasperating.  It’s very abrupt, and my understanding is that Jonas’s story does not continue in book two, which is entirely frustrating.  Effective to illicit an emotional response, but also, just… it felt terribly unfinished in the most annoying of ways.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Writing: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★

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The Giver Stays on the Shelf

I have quite enjoyed The Giver – enough to read it in a single day, which even despite its length, is a feat for me lately.  The ending is frustrating in its abruptness, as I said, but this little book in its 208 pages packs a punch as a reflections of our values as a culture and the danger in erasing our pasts in favor of peace or sameness.  The human race is messy and broken in many ways, but also beautiful.

It’s a book I’ll definitely read again.  It’s a quick read and a scientific fiction classic and well worth its space on my shelf.

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Do you believe the world would be a better place if we were all the same?  I think it’s an interesting thing to talk about, and 200 pages didn’t begin to cover it!  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!

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