Kate's Reviews > The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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May 25, 2012

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bookshelves: 2012, age-middlegrade, age-ya, dystopia, audiobooks
Read from May 08 to 24, 2012

Jonas lives in an ideal community where there is no pain and everyone is polite and content. At the ceremony of 12, when children learn what their jobs will be, Jonas is singled out to be the new Receiver of Memories. He is told this job requires him to be brave, as it will involve indescribable pain. This job is highly revered in the community and requires someone with the ability to "see beyond."

Jonas meets the current Receiver - now called the Giver - and as he is given the memories of life from generations long before he was born, long before the community was established, Jonas begins to question exactly how "ideal" his current community actually is.

This book is on most school reading lists and I knew it was a dystopia. While it is certainly a powerful story, I felt that the ending left a lot open, and there were a lot of questions unanswered. For example, how does this community exist that has no color, no weather, and no memories of the past? How did the memories come to be contained in one person, and what is the genetic trait that allows some members of the community to have the ability to receive or give the memories? Is it magic or technology? How would a child in this community know the word "starving" if no one has ever used it to describe being hungry? Likewise, how would children play a game of war, calling out commands like soldiers and generals, if they had never been taught about war or killing? (view spoiler) I'm thinking some of these questions might be answered in the companion books, Gathering Blue and Messenger. The ending felt like some kind of religious allegory but I'm not sure I interpreted that correctly.

Notes on the audio version: The narrator seemed to drop his R's and sometimes when Jonas was upset, the narrator made his voice sound very babyish. I'm not sure I would have interpreted Jonas as behaving childish if I had read the words on a page. However, given that this society keeps citizens ignorant and constantly polite and no one ever questions it, I imagine they are a bit childlike in that respect.
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