Colin McKay Miller's Reviews > The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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's review
Mar 10, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: cant-remember-well-enough-to-review, novels, young-adult, top-ten-to-recommend

Lois Lowry’s The Giver is often labeled as a controversial young adult version of 1984, and that’s just fine with me.

In the future, society has become harmonious. No more pain, no more choices, no more color even (helping to eliminate racial prejudice). Each family has a mom, a dad, one boy and one girl. Every 12-year-old is assigned a job to work for the rest of their days. This Sameness allows everyone to be happy. There are few exceptions and 12-year-old Jonas has just been assigned the one job that will make him the main exception of the town: The Receiver of Memory. This Receiver of Memory holds all the old memories from before people were conformed to the Sameness. Additionally, he experiences love, pain and is able to make choices like lying—a level of knowledge required to make decisions that others do not have the experience to make. However, when Jonas receives this knowledge from the former Receiver of Memory—the Giver—he suddenly starts seeing the flaws in the supposed perfect society he grew up in and the immoral lengths people will go to in order to keep it as such.

Similar to 1984, the people in The Giver are monitored (though technology as a whole is minimized). As with Orwell’s dystopian novel, I was impressed by Lowry’s universe, by her ability to give just enough little details and white space to make it feel full. The Biblical ties to the power of knowledge were well done, too, even if I’d disagree with where those theological conclusions could wind up. Since 1984 has my favorite ending to a book ever, I wouldn’t lump The Giver in with it if the ending was a wash. The ending is excellent, open to interpretation (in the good way), but some of these interpretations helped get it on the most challenged list from the 1990s. Alas it has been long enough that I can’t remember the nuanced pros or cons of the read—though I recently read that people picked on the logistics of the town birth rate versus growth rate and felt that some of the material was too dark for middle schoolers—so I’ll have to settle with saying that The Giver is still one of the best young adult novels I ever read. Four stars.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Lacey (new)

Lacey That's all well and good, and I bet I'd enjoy it now. But man, when I read it as a kid, I HATED that book.

Colin McKay Miller Eh, Nick didn't like it as an adult, so I'm not sure if it's entirely the forced-to-read-it-in-school issue.

Taylor I remember this was one of the few books I read as a child and it was one of the first pieces of entertainment that didn't treat me as a child with the ending. I remember that making me mad because I wanted all the answers.

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