Matt’s review of The Giver (The Giver #1) > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Rhea (new)

Rhea Great review! I chuckled at your ending choices.

message 2: by Rhea (new)

Rhea Great review! I chuckled at your ending choices.

message 3: by Maribeth (new)

Maribeth Great review. The concept of the book was not bad (I even liked it for the first several pages), but the gaping holes in the story were impossible to swallow.

message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah She wanted to leave the ending open, but she did resolve it after all in her two companions, Gathering Blue and Messenger, which you will probably also rip apart if you read *chuckle*
I disagree, but it's your opinion.

message 5: by Liz (new)

Liz Wow. I haven't read this book since I was about twelve or thirteen. This analysis... it's fantastic. Well done!

message 6: by Jess (new)

Jess Veazey I really enjoyed this review! While I adore this book to no end, it was really interesting reading your take on it. I especially liked the last paragraph. ♪

message 7: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Don't forget, Fiona apparently knew what 'release' meant having been taught during her time at the old home. Why she didn't tell her friends about it I can't imagine. Any normal kid would blab in a second.

message 8: by Ol (new)

Ol Great review. It is a need for a normal mind to tell if the king is naked or if he has a beautiful dress. You spotted the "nakedness" here and explained it clearly. While many others hate, admire or semi-religiously worship... an empty place.
Please, write more reviews and rate other books. It will me and others to find interesting books to read.

message 9: by Gavin (new)

Gavin One comment though - the people in the community are emotionless (the pills to stop the stirrings if you recall) so that would explain why they exhibit only taught behaviour. 'Release' by the father is taught behaviour and as the Giver says, he knows nothing else.

I think you're trying to make the book something it wasn't intended to be IMO. Lowry wasn't attempting to write a fully crafted dystopian novel. She has simply used this premise to express valuable, albeit, straight forward insight as to what it is to be human.

message 10: by Matt (last edited Sep 04, 2012 08:24AM) (new)

Matt "One comment though - the people in the community are emotionless..."

If in fact Lowry had protrayed the community and its members as emotionless, that might have made the story more believable. However, there is plenty of evidence of emotion in the story, mostly because it is in my opinion impossible to write intelligent beings without emotion and even if you could, they would be so obviously flat and characterless that you couldn't sympathize with them. I made mention of the supposed reduction in depth of feeling by the drug therapy in my review, and dismissed it as being inadequate to explain the contridictions.

One of the biggest problems here is neither Lowry nor you seem to know what emotion is, probably because its not something that is taught and is so common that it would be like explaining water to a fish. But it is important here. Emotion is not only the large hystrionic displays we associate with displaying emotions. These are more show and display than true emotion, and most adults learn how counterproductive these are and avoid producing these shows as a means of conveying our feelings. Instead, emotion is really one of the two cognitive pathways by which humans analyze data and make sense of it. For any observation, any intelligent being has to make two valuations. The first, what we call rational thought answers the question, "What is it?". The second, what we call emotional thought answers the question, "What does it mean to me?" Emotional thought is necessary for any goal driven behavior, which is the reason why when Sci-Fi offers up supposedly unemotional characters in the form of Spock or Data in practice these characters are actually driven by various emotions which can be observed from the text. When the author wants us to see that they are feeling emotions, then the author - very humanly - has them produce big emotional displays and outcrys that are the social markers of emotion that tell other members of our social band what we are feeling and how we need to be related to. But those outwards signs are not the emotions themselves. Lowry is largely guilty of the same problem, having her characters display all sorts of emotional contexts - self pride, nervousness, uncertainty, fear, desire, disgust, courage, stubbornness, grief, happiness, possessiveness, compassion, etc. - and then wanting us to believe that just because there was no show, or just because the drugs reduce the depth of feeling sufficiently that there isn't a need for the show that somehow the motivations and thoughts aren't there. But you can't on one hand show us characters whose minds aren't empty and then in the next moment show them with empty minds and make it all that believable.

Real human emotion runs metaphoricly both hot and cold. The 'hot' emotion is when you are motivated to make an immediate large display, like a two year old that throws a tantrum to say how angry he is but who can control it as long as no one else is in the room. Or less ignobly perhaps when grief overtakes you and forces sobs and tears out of you. But more usually, emotion runs cold, giving you motivations without the need for big physical displays. So far as we can tell, the drugs in the story only prevent emotion from running hot - curbing physical lust, reducing physical sobbing, dampening the sharp sting of pain, reducing angry outbursts and displays. But they don't elimenate the entire cognitive pathway that tells people what things mean until it becomes useful in the story for that to happen.

The Giver is frankly wrong. Jonas's Father is a bit of a rebel, who repeatedly bucks the system and repeatedly engages in behavior contrary to what is ordinary in the community. Jonas's Father repeatedly displays extraordinary compassion, more than many people who aren't on drugs do, and risks his standing in the community at several points. The problem this creates is less over whether the drugs can control the father figures emotional life, but over whether they can control the fundamental contridiction in the society. Again, if Lowry had not tried to convince us that the society was basically life affirming, then it wouldn't have been a difficulty. But Lowry tries to create a bigger emotional blow for the reader by hiding her 'twist' by making the society not seem so dystopian at first - consider the response of the society to accidental death, or the focus on the precision of language. Lowry provides no believable means for people not understanding what 'release' means on a logical level, even if they don't understand it as murder on an emotional level.

And, even if I conceded that you could reconcile all of this, that is only one of many many flaws in the stories logic.

"She has simply used this premise to express valuable, albeit, straight forward insight as to what it is to be human."

But I don't concede that she has done this. All science fiction is fundamentally about thinking about what it means to be human by constrasting humanity with things that are not (in this case the supposedly emotionless humans of the invented society). I have no idea what you mean by "a fully crafted dystopian novel". I do know that Lowry hasn't convinced me that she has much in the way of valuable insight into what it is to be human. What is this valuable insight of which you speak?

message 11: by Lauren (new)

Lauren I like your ending too!!!! And no one can say its dumb because there is no ending and Lois wanted the reader 2 night chose the ending!!!!!

message 12: by Allyssa (new)

Allyssa I'm reading the ppl with my class and we are just past the middle where Jonas finds the Giver dead right? I think you might have spoiled it for me but I won't tell....:P

message 13: by Moeaye (new)

Moeaye Awesome. :)

message 14: by Bearbike137 (new)

Bearbike137 Matt - your review is incredible. Who are you? :-) I want to be in your book group, dude. As I read "The Giver", I grew more and more bothered by the story, but I could not quite put my finger on why that was. Well, you nailed it. Thanks, again.

message 15: by Andrew (new)

Andrew I think that there is an aristocratical society hidden from the others that controls the leaders you see. I bet that they use a form of mind suppressing stuff to keep them slaves. That causes them to lose their will and individuality. It also causes them to not see color. Also, adults get more than others, so they lose all empathy and morals. This causes the character changes. Perhaps the medicine. It implies that the medicine is not good for the keeper of memories. Maybe it is mass produced junk and special people are able to resist it. Like old clothes. They found a way to take everything from the old times and store it on a single living memory card, and at the same time deal with a potentially rebellious group.

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