Emily May's Reviews > The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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Feb 12, 2011

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bookshelves: young-adult, dystopia-utopia, 2011
Read from April 15 to 16, 2011

Reread just in time for the new movie!

I've been meaning to come back to The Giver and write a better review for some time now and the soon-to-be-released movie seemed like as good an excuse as any. My rating remains the same even though it's been several years (and many badly-written YA dystopias) since I last picked this up. I still think it's a good book, with an interesting concept and sophisticated writing... but I was never 100% sold.

For one thing, the protagonist and narrator has just turned twelve years old. While I'm glad that authors are writing thought-provoking books for younger children, there is a lack of depth in the narrative which was necessary in order for it to be a realistic portrait of a child's mind. The society and themes explored by the novel might have been more effective through the eyes of someone older, in my opinion.

In the story, citizens of this society are united by a "sameness" that fosters peace, cooperation and general well-being. Everyone is equal and everything is chosen for you... your spouse, your occupation, even the children you receive. As the novel opens, it appears to be a utopian world. But things are not all as they first seem. When Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memory, his mind is opened to the dark secrets of the society he was born into. He learns that harmony has a price and it might just be more than he's willing to pay.

This book gradually explores and perhaps challenges the notion that ignorance is bliss. How much is it worth to live peaceful - if empty - lives? I like the idea of it far more than I like the novel itself. The strength of the novel is not in the plot, writing or characters... but in the wandering thoughts you are left with and the strange sense of unease it imparts.

I understand why readers of Matched felt compelled to compare the two - the functioning of the societies is almost identical and the MCs experience some similar dilemmas, though Matched is far more romantic. I suppose it is further evidence of how influential this little book has been on the genre. The concepts are, for me, definitely stronger than the characters. And the ambiguous ending pleased me in the way it was crafted, rather than causing me to fret over Jonas' fate.
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04/15/2011 page 59
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Sarah I first read this in 8th grade as a school assignment. This is the book that really sparked my interest towards distopian novels. I see why you would want the character to be older, but I think the authors goal was to get kids interested in more thought-provoking novels while they're still young. This is still my favorite book to this day.

 [LittleHearseDriver] I agree with you, Emily. The idea is greater than the novel itself. I was expecting more when I read it and I was disappointed because the hype raised my expectations of the book.

message 3: by Carol (new)

Carol Sara, I agree with you. I loved the book and gave it a five. I also agree with Emily in regards to the maturity of the main character. I think it was a play on the 50's and 50's. I was this characters age during the 1960's when Ozzy and Harriet, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and the I Love Lucy show was popular. Everything on The "television" was black and white and married couples slept in separate twin beds. We ate dinner at exactly 4:30 pm everyday, thirty minutes after my father came home from work. My Parent and my siblings, a sister and two brothers, would sit down on the couch at 7:30pm in front of the television to watch the latest new program. My favorite was Outer Space. We would leave my grandmothers house early on a Sunday evening because a special was on at 7:30. Reading the Giver series reminded me of my youth, part of it seems so fake to me now, I wonder if the author had this in mind.

Kate Rees I just finished this book and I was disappointed at the ending, I literally thought, that's it? I had high expectations from all the reviews, I did like the notion though.

Meaghan That's my plan right now. I am rereading it before I see the movie. Not sure how I feel though.

Emily May Good luck with your reread, Meaghan! Let me know your final thoughts.

Whisperwind Well, the next in the series is Gathering Blue, then Messenger, then the last book, Son, ties it all together. I promise it gets better.

Sarah True! I remember reading this in school and Jonas had the mind of someone way older, compared to his friends. It was a good idea of a book but not as well written.

message 9: by Kai (new) - added it

Kai I am from Germany and we either have to read this book for English class or “Brave New World” for our new topic. We can decide it, which book do you think is better?

Emily May Kai wrote: "I am from Germany and we either have to read this book for English class or “Brave New World” for our new topic. We can decide it, which book do you think is better?"

That's a strange choice, given the readability/reading levels are very different! I personally really disliked Brave New World and would rather read this, though BNW is definitely more "literary".

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