Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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Oct 05, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult, dystopia, science-fiction, banned-books, so-good-it-s-awesome, simply-the-best
Read from October 03 to 05, 2012 — I own a copy

“It's the choosing that's important, isn't it?”

Jonas lives in a world of "Sameness" with his Mother, his Father, and his younger sister, Lily. It's a world governed by rules, by rigid structure, by conformity. Jonas enjoys his life--until he is selected to be The Receiver. His job? To receive the memories from The Giver of the past. And what the past unveils shows a drastically different world than Jonas lives in.

This week is Banned Books Week, and in honor, I selected this from the ALA Banned Book List. Some of the reasons included euthanasia, sexual awakening, and infantcide.

Another reason I chose this book is I love dystopias, and with the modern crop of hideously bad insanely stupid sloppily constructed dystopias for Young Adults, I thought I would return to the roots, to see one of the first (if not the first) Young Adult Dystopia novels.

In short, this book is brilliant. The dystopia works, the characters are great, the writing is excellent, and I was genuinely moved.

A lot of recent dystopias seem to have their world-building constructed like a house of cards: one little sneeze, and the entire thing falls in your lap. With the exception of the giving and receiving of memories (Is Jonas genetically modified to be able to give and receive? Is this science? Magic? How does this happen?), the world building is consistent, realistic, and understandable. People have been stripped of choices; they live in a sanitized "safe" world where no conflict exists. Families are created based on strict algorithms; people are assigned their jobs, their spouses, their children. The only books are those based on the rules of the society. People must be precise in their language; you don't just toss around the word "love" anymore.

What I thought was most amazing was how polite everyone was. To eradicate conflict, everyone was trained to immediately apologize for sins and to accept apologies. Debate, discord, arguments--all of these never occurred because there was no outlet. I felt sad about this, particularly because my hobby is reviewing, and if there is one thing I've learned while reviewing, it's that everyone has a different opinion about everything. But in this society, such things as a difference of opinion would never have been cultivated or encouraged; we would never have debate; we would never argue and learn to be social. Instead, we would be silenced.

The characters were great. I really got close to Jonas, and there were at least two times when I was nearly moved to tears after something happened to him. I was astonished at how quickly and easily I great attached to him; it's truly a gifted author who can write her protagonist so well that the reader is so close to him after so short a time. Other characters, such as The Giver, Mother, Father, Lily, Asher, Fiona, may not have been the highlight, but they were well-established. Asher's clumsiness with words, Lily's impetuousness, Father's nurturing (very interesting, as it is so often the woman is pigeon-holed into this role!), Mother's rationality--they hint at each being an individual, straining to be free in a Same society.

The writing is obviously for a younger reader, probably about middle grade. While I don't typically read middle grade books, I felt I was still able to enjoy it, that it wasn't too "dumbed down".

As for why it is banned....poppycock! I think this is a perfect book for a middle-schooler/early high school student. While I might agree that a parent should be on standby for some scenes (just in case questions or discussion topics arise), I think this book is a great gateway into a better understanding of our world and the things we hold important. What better way to show a burgeoning young man or woman how valuable choice and love and the beauty of nature around us than to show a world that doesn't have any of that. What a better way to show kids to be engaged in everything around us, that life is precious, that emotions, good and bad, are important and healthy.

"The Giver" may not be the first dystopian novel nor the last, but it's still an important work that can teach everyone something new. If things like loving your family, the horrors of killing someone because they aren't "useful", and the gift of choice and the beauty of nature are things we don't want in our society, then sure, this book should remain banned. Personally, I WANT to love, I WANT choice, I WANT to see beauty, I WANT to feel and think and be and have different opinions than everyone else. I think the banning of this book is the highest form of irony; I know if I ever have kids, that I won't be banning it from them.
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Quotes Crystal Starr Light Liked

Lois Lowry
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
Lois Lowry, The Giver

Lois Lowry
“For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps, it was only an echo.”
Lois Lowry, The Giver

Lois Lowry
“It's the choosing that's important, isn't it?”
Lois Lowry, The Giver

Reading Progress

10/03/2012 page 20
11.0% "Excellent dystopian world building!! No brainer though."
10/03/2012 page 29
16.0% "Only 29 pages in, and I feel like I understand the world and the rules and how this society is ACTUALLY OPPRESSIVE. So funny that this book is on the banned's basically about banning free thought (no wonder though, right?)."
10/04/2012 page 80
44.0% "I am enjoying the pants off this book. I think it's more geared to a middle-age reading grade (one I don't typically read), but I think it's great. Good world-building. Very ominous. Very ironic that this book would be banned (why am I not surprised?)."
10/04/2012 page 97
54.0% "So I'm wondering how The Giver is passing on the memories to Jonas. Is it a special power? Also, are people unable to see color or has color itself been genetically removed?"
10/05/2012 page 153
85.0% "Well, Jonas found out what happens when people are "released"--gut-wrenching."
10/05/2012 page 168
93.0% "Biggest problem I have with this book is I don't quite understand the memories thing. How does the Giver send the memories to Jonas? Is this a special ability that has been genetically added to a person? Is it science or magic? And how are they going to give these memories to the people? If I can ignore that hurdle, this is, duh, an amazing book."
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Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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Andrey You have not read this yet???? Tsk Tsk Tsk.

Crystal Starr Light Andrey wrote: "You have not read this yet???? Tsk Tsk Tsk."

No, I haven't!! But I plan on rectifying that soon!

Andrey I see. Enjoy!

Crystal Starr Light Andrey wrote: "I see. Enjoy!"

I'm reading it in honor of Banned Books week; I'm already enjoying it quite a bit!

Devlin Scott It's a very good choice for Banned Books Week.

Andrey Agreed. One of my middle school favorites.

Jason Stalides I almost read this one for my Banned Book week pick. I am not surprised you seem to be enjoying it so far.

Crystal Starr Light Jason wrote: "I almost read this one for my Banned Book week pick. I am not surprised you seem to be enjoying it so far."

Top notch world-building, great characters, fascinating story (and very ironic, given that this book is banned!). I'm shocked at how quickly I'm growing attached to Jonas and The Giver--this is such a tiny book, and yet in the mere 80 pages, I've grown ridiculously close to them!

Andrey I told you you would love it!

Jason Stalides Man, two years goes by fast! Pretty crazy two years too (for me anyway).

Five stars from the uber-critical General Starr Light?!!

It'll either be awesome...or the I'll love it. I'm pretty sure I'll like this one though.

Can't even remember what my banned book was two years ago. Pretty sure I did Animal Farm last year.

Crystal Starr Light I can't even believe it myself! I coulda sworn it was just last year I read this!

You will like this; there's some fascinating character insights and poignant scenes.

Jason Stalides So Animal Farm was Two years ago. Last year was American Psycho! Didn't think it was possible to forget that. Although last year was a bit of a whirlwind.

Crystal Starr Light Last year for me was "Thirteen Reasons Why" (good for teens, but I didn't like it) and in 2011, it was a classic: "1984"!

Jason Stalides It seems our complete-opposite-opinion-about-books streak continues. I really wanted to love it...I just...didn't. :/

I thought it pretty boring, really. We really need a book to gush over together. That or you should just change your opinions and agree with mine ;P

Crystal Starr Light LOL!!

While I'm not going to say my opinion is wrong (because my opinion is NEVER wrong LOL), I will say that my thoughts about this may have been influenced by the heaps of shitty young adult "fauxtopias" I had read before this.

Which really makes a point: why you love a book is a MULTITUDE of reasons, things like your background, your feelings and thoughts of the moment, what you've been through, what you like to read, but also, what you most recently read and what you had not.

But it's SO WEIRD how our opinions on books seem to almost always be on the opposite spectrum. I think the only books we've agreed on were "Ready Player One", John Scalzi, and Neil Gaiman.

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