TITLE: The Giver
AUTHOR: Lois Lowry
Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
I’ve seen many, many posts and conversations about The Giver and, naturally, my library has several copies since some of our schools list it as required reading. I, however, had never read it since it was not part of my required reading in high school. This month it is our teen book club choice and so I figured, since it was such a short read, why not.
This review may contain spoilers.
Jonas is on the precipice of becoming a Twelve and receiving his Assignment. His world is perfect, without violence, hunger, or even stress. There is a place and a task for everyone. Those who are not thriving, misbehave or too old to continue being a part of the community are Released into Elsewhere.
The Assignment Jonas receives is very special and it opens his eyes to things he never imagined–literally. Occupants of the community of sameness have little thought for themselves. They are told what to do, where to go, how to dress, and as a result have very little individual thought or emotion. That’s how it is meant to be. So, when Jonas learns of other possibilities through his Assignment he is at first bewildered and over the course of the year he grows angry and frustrated before deciding to do something about it.
I want to say that I enjoyed that Lowry delves into the story right off without the need to set everything up as much as some dystopian novels I’ve read. It was an added bonus that without all the backstory I was still able to follow along easily without much confusion at all. The way the children advance every year with different milestones is much the way things are actually celebrated in today’s world (as well as in the past). Little girls often grow up and take out their hair ribbons. Children of certain ages get bicycles and learn to ride. At some point, they will move into a career–the only difference is in The Giver these things are all neatly planned out for each individual.
I understand that the world is somewhat bleak due to the nature of dystopian novels, however, I felt that it was almost underwhelming. It wasn’t as moving as I had hoped–even after the climax. It simply was. Also, it was fairly predictable but I expected that given that it’s written for a younger group. I enjoyed the first three quarters of the book but toward the end everything felt awfully rushed. The passage of time was not written very well in my opinion given that until a character verbally mentioned how long Jonas had been working at his Assignment it would not have been known at all. I was somewhat shocked when the Releasing Ceremony was finally revealed so that was a grotesque surprise (but appreciated in an otherwise dull read).
I’m fairly certain there are all manner of reviews on this book varying from one star to five stars, and perhaps, if pushed hard enough I could churn out a lengthy review or even a literature paper on the novel but since I read it for fun, I won’t. I enjoyed the book and I may actually read the rest in the series.