Books I Loathed discussion

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message 1: by Grace (last edited Oct 05, 2008 07:09PM) (new)

Grace | 22 comments I think I'm one of the only people who hate this book. It's won awards and is listed as a lot of people's favorite, but I hate with a passion. I wouldn't hate it so much if it didn't get so much credit. There isn't even anything about it that I find appealing. The writing sucks, the story sucks, the characters are annoying and the plot is feeble. And frankly the "Lets make children think and ask questions" attitude is just plain irritating (I'm about to turn sixteen and read this book last year). I looked up the reviews and ratings on the book and found that many of the people who like the book are either teachers or parents. It seems like a book that a lot of adults list as their favorite children's book but no kids do.

I could go into much more detail on why I loath this book so much. But I'm tired and would like to first see if I'm the only person in the world who has this opinion on this book. Or if not I may simply be provoked. ;)


message 2: by Caroline (new)

Caroline It actually seems really common for this to be hated in high school. A lot of the other English classes read it as required reading, and so I had to listen to all of my friends gripe about it. It seems to be a book that's more appreciated by adults, because kids either don't understand it or just plain hate it. It's one I'd say try again in 10 years and you might find you love it.

I actually just read it for the first time a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. If I had read it in high school, though, I think I probably would have been frustrated by the vague ending.


message 3: by Grace (new)

Grace | 22 comments I actually read this by choice. It had nothing to do with being made to read it. I'm homeschooled and I knew that most school kids had to read it. I'd heard it come up in conversation and wanted to read it simply so that the next time someone mentioned it I would be able to contribute and would know what they were talking about.

It wasn't just the vague ending either, (though that did frustrate me) Most of all I felt that the author really didn't know much more than she was putting on the page. I like it when I feel that the author knows everything about their characters and their world. Was the entire world like that? Was this the only town to go to "sameness"? Was it an experiment? Why? When? How long has this been going on? The author didn't necessarily have to have these answers directly in the text, I just needed to feel that she knew.

And then the memories thing. When I started I thought that it was a sci-fi book. But then there's this guy who can transfer memories by touching people. And Jonas can feel the things in the memories. Then, Jonas leaves the village so that the memories will go back to the people. How can they go back to people that they never belonged to? They were never theirs.


message 4: by Summer (new)

Summer | 28 comments I cannot tell I lie: I loved this one. However, I'm a sucker for dystopias. Maybe this isn't the best thought out option, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Grace: I love your name. It's one of my absolute favorites. It was my grandmother's. Now, if I might make a suggestion, perhaps you can put aside YA works for a while and come back to them when you are older. I remember perceiving authors’ condescension often when I was an adolescent, but when I revisited a book as an older person, it didn’t bother me as much. There is something so transient about that time of life; it’s hard for some individuals to hold on to it and get the tone absolutely correct and believable.


message 5: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 55 comments Caroline, I see where you are coming from. I think that most young adults don't really relate to this book for some reason. When I was doing my student teaching I taught it because I had loved it and I did want to try to teach the students to think about, among other things, the relative merits and drawbacks of a totalitarian society.

I think many of the students just did not get it and I would not chose to teach it again.

After feedback I received, I even liked the book a little less myself, though it does have a lot of very deep and thought provoking potential.

The fact is, sadly from my point of view, most adolescents don't like to read. As a substitute teacher, whenever we have SSR I have to fight with at least 1/3 of the class to actually even have a book open and I notice that only about 10% of the students are actually enjoying reading.


message 6: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Grace, I can definitely see where you're coming from! Those kinds of things used to bug me in novels (and movies, too), as well, but it's something I've actually come to appreciate. I really do believe Lowry knew exactly what she was doing, but revealing it all not only didn't really matter to the story (it would have been fascinating to know about more of the Communities and the ways they live in those, and to see maybe if all of them had Givers. I can think of lots of things I would have loved to know!).

Since the story was from the perspective of Jonas, there's no way he would have known all of that information, and so there's no way we should have known. She could have changed the perspective on it or had him learn more of it somehow, but I think it would have ruined the overall feeling of the story. For me, the vagueness of the world made it all the more important for Jonas to go out in it and discover the truth for himself. I don't think him getting out to the world and to safety would have had as much of an impact on me if we had been fed all of the facts.

Dianna, sadly I think you're right on most adolescents not liking to read, and that seems to go into adulthood for a lot of them. Luckily there's a whole lot of adolescents here on this website sharing the love of reading, which is great to see! But, yes, I remember being way in the minority as a bookworm.

I imagine it's pretty difficult choosing books for students to read! Not only is every student going to have different tastes, but there's also that generational gap.


message 7: by Grace (new)

Grace | 22 comments Obviously, for me it has nothing to do with the fact that I don't like to read. I love to, there's is never a time when I'm not "currently reading" a book and I always have one with me encase I get bored. It really is too bad that there aren't many kids who like to read.

I think that the moment I decide I like The Giver will be the moment my inner child shrivels up and dies in painful agony.

I also felt that the book was written with the idea that it could be used in Highschool english classes. Just like I didn't like The Lottery when I read it for the same reason, (a story I read because I found it in my cousins english folder and was curious)


message 8: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 55 comments The bibliophile in me wants to just go over and hug every single student I see thoroughly enjoying the sustained silent reading time and at the same time I wonder if they are like I was as a child and hope for them that they actually have moderation. I would have sat and read all day long and I have come to realize that moderation is the key.

I just want to ask a question though lol (the teacher in me coming out) Don't you see how even if a totalitarian society has merit the exchange of freedom for security is not good. That is such an important value to teach and I think we see enough in the media and the government now trying to slowly but surely take away our freedom in the name of security. Now I will get off my soapbox lol because I know we are not supposed to talk politics and I don't want to offend anyone lol.

By the way The Lottery was a strange one indeed. I had to read it in 9th or 10th grade.


message 9: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (sir_reads_a_lot) | 11 comments The Lottery is not needed in this world...at all....it stunk.


But, I really enjoyed The Giver. I didn't read it for school, so that might have helped a little, but I really did like it. It is a book I cna't wait to share with people.


message 10: by Erica (new)

Erica | 66 comments Well, this thread may have helped me. I feel as though I only person I know to see the ending as ambiguous (if not heartbreaking). True, I am a bit morbid. But everyone I have spoken with thinks - SPOILER ALERT!!! - the boy goes off to a Happy Place with warmth and good food. Now, when the Giver's daughter wanted to give the memories back to the community, she had to DIE, didn't she? She didn't just emigrate. So I felt horrified and certain that the Happy Place was our hero going delirious and dying (with the poor little freezing baby dying at his side). I couldn't believe this was offered to kids! I haven't re-read it, but all my non-morbid associates assure me I am mistaken.

So, yes, a great book, really a shocker. Somewhat Lottery-esque, in fact (for some reason I'm totally okay with teens being exposed to that one).

Help me out: what did happen at the end? Did any of you get a Happy Place feeling? Do I need counseling? Do all my friends need a reality check?


message 11: by Brette (new)

Brette | 4 comments Erica, Keep reading the series. You will find out.


message 12: by Emma (last edited Sep 25, 2008 04:20PM) (new)

Emma I loved The Giver because it was my first taste of dystopic fiction. Yes, it seemed "designed to make young people think" but, for me, it did just that. I read it in grade 5 so it was my first exposure to the whole concept of totalitarianism. It was novel and interesting.

However, I'm almost 100% sure that if I was forced to read it in high school I would have hated it. The writing isn't terribly wonderful and the characters are a bit two dimensional. But that's fairly common for YA fiction and, in my opinion, the ideas behind the book more than make up for its failings.


message 13: by Grace (new)

Grace | 22 comments Woa, I totally didn't see that so many people had responded to this since I last posted.

To respond to all the people who say that often kids don't like it or relate to it and I should wait 'till I'm older:Than why on earth does every kid have to read it? Why is this book in the children's section? To me, it hardly seems like a good idea to make kids read a book that all adults are fairly certain they aren't going to like. This book seems to appeal a lot more to the teacher or parent than the kid. Maybe The Giver should be in the adult section.

Dianna, I'm not saying that because I don't like the book I think totalitarianism is good. I understand perfectly what she was writing about, I just don't think she did a good job. The thing is, she accomplished exactly that, she wrote a book about 'how bad totalitarian society is' and no one can say anything else about it. It ends there. Maybe it's because I'm a kid and the preachiness bothers me, I don't know. But I also feel like I expect more out of a book, I don't just want to be 'taught a lesson' I want to actually enjoy myself. Also, it has nothing to do with me not liking books that have to do with totalitarianism or sci-fi. I read The City of Ember and liked that a lot, it is similar to The Giver, but it my opinion a lot better.

Emma, I think it's a bit ridiculous to expect less from a book simply because it's YA, why should the author be allowed to get away with creating flat character's or not writing well just because they are writing for kids and teens? There are a lot of books out there that came from a great idea and I think it's sad when they are poorly executed because all you get to see is a ruin of what it could have been.


message 14: by Laura (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:51AM) (new)

Laura | 29 comments Brette, The Giver is not part of a series - there are several books that seem to be part of the same world, but they're not a series and reading more won't give you any more answers than you had after you read The Giver.

I've worked in three schools now as a librarian and this is one book that students actually like when they're reading/studying it. Not all students, but then, there are very few books that everybody absolutely loves (including Harry Potter, despite the hype). I'm not sure why anyone would think it should be universally loved.

Grace, I'm sorry you didn't like it. I'm glad you liked City of Ember. That's one of the joys of reading: you don't like one, you'll find something else you like better. Have you tried The Hunger Games?


message 15: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 55 comments Grace,

I understand what you are saying. I also said earlier that if I had it to do over again I don't think I would have chosen The Giver as my lesson plan for my student teaching. I still think it is a good book but I understand that lots of young people don't appreciate it. I can also understand how the ending can be seen as somewhat unsatisfactory. I do think there are lessons to be learned from the book but I feel somewhat bad to think that I might have discouraged some of my 8th graders from the love of reading by making them read this book.


message 16: by Grace (new)

Grace | 22 comments I'm not going to pretend that I don't think it's kinda cool that this thread actually influenced someone. But I do think you should read The Giver, Wittystar. I've been trying to get my sister to read it for almost two years just so we can discuss it. I don't want to make people /not/ read books. Personally, I think The Giver is an excellent example of how a children's book shouldn't be written. So, I think you should read it and then form your own opinions.

If you do, I'd love for you to post back here on what you thought about it!


message 17: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen (mary_iatrop) | 24 comments both preachy AND blasphemous! that sounds like an achievment in breadth of effect if nothing else.



message 18: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) I read "The Giver" quite recently. I thought it was okay. If I had read it in grade school or junior high, I probably would have loved it. However, it's not very original. It reminded me of books that were better, like "The Lottery" and "Logan's Run". That said, if it turns kids on to reading, that's terrific.


message 19: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen (mary_iatrop) | 24 comments All kidding aside, I must say I'm not sure "preachy" or "blasphemous" are the right words to describe The Giver. Yes, its message of critical thinking and questioning authority can be heavy-handed at times, perhaps a tad obvious. But it's meant for young minds which have not been introduced to critical thought before. I think Grace hit the nail on the head - it's meant to get children to think, to ask questions. Encouraging you to think for yourself and to question your world is the opposite of preachy.

Grace, if your reaction to that message was boredom or indifference, I'd say you're a very lucky person. Not everyone lives in a world where critical thought is encouraged. For some, the very idea of questioning authority is unheard of, in which exposure to books like The Giver (and other examples folks have mentioned) is crucial.

And if questioning authority is perceived to be "blasphemous," then we're all in real trouble...




message 20: by Laura (new)

Laura | 29 comments Wittystar, the best way to "understand" a book is to read it and respond to it in your own way, not to rely on other people's opinions. No matter what we say, YMMV.


message 21: by Mathura (new)

Mathura (mathurarara) Well, I read it when I was not in high school, lol - I read it when I was in middle school, GRADE SIX. First dystopia novel; I wasn't so familiar with it. I'm still not, unless, whould the Uglies series count? One of the "topias". I was able to appreciate it fine. I liked the book. A lot. Sure, the vague ending irked me but I still loved the book. I know a lot of other people my age who liked it, and some adults too. The most common comment from people who didn't like it was that they didn't like the ending.

The characters weren't so bad. I was able to empathize with the protagonist. I wished I could see more of the secondary charcters (in my opinion that means characters who didn't know what was going on, lol, b/c they don't have as much depth or understanding since they are basically clueless about the conflict/plot), I liked his best friend.

I thought the plot was good and same goes for the twists.


message 22: by Emily (new)

Emily This whole topic thread (and that the book is frequently challenged/banned) has made me want to re-read this book! I read The Giver back when it first came out (I was in middle school then). Lois Lowry was one of my favorite authors when I was younger though I cannot remember specifically if I enjoyed this book or not. I'm excited to read it again - lately I've been excited about dystopian sci-fi style stories and about reading J/YA fiction AND I tend to enjoy "vague" endings (by "vague" I mean endings that are not super clean - that leave room for the reader to imagine what happens next or what meaning they want to make of it all - I hate being spoon fed) - The Giver seems like a good match for me! (I'll come back and share my opinion once I've read the book!)


message 23: by Kellyn (new)

Kellyn (Waterlily101) | 9 comments I didn't read this because I had to. I read it by choice. I find that people tend to dislike a book more if they have to read it rather than by choice. (For example, I absolutely hated Tom Sawyer when my literacy teacher made us read it, but a friend in a different class found it very enjoyable.) With The Giver it's really no different. I personally loved this book and am currently rereading it.


message 24: by Jojobean (new)

Jojobean When I was in 8th grade I was forced to read this book by my english teacher and analyze the hell out of it. This caused me to HATE the book. I remember telling my friends and sister how much I loathed this book.

The when I was 18, I started on a reading kick again. I'd always loved reading as a small child but with school, home work and all the regular teen s***, I just didn't have the time. Summers were my time to read. So anyway at around 18, I don't know why but I decided to give this book another try and now I absolutely love it and its one of my favorite books. I mean as I was reading it, I remembered all the parts from when I read it in school, but this time it was just better. I think for me anyway, it was because I hated analyzing any book for all the stupid things teachers think are there in the book. I've always asked why we have to analyze the books. Who said that the authors put in the things that the teachers say they did. Maybe the whole goal of writing the book is because the author, hmm I don't know, wanted people to ENJOY their book, not analyze it to its death.

So that's my experience with this book. I also remember really hating the book The Great Gatsby when I was in High School and now at 27 I still refuse to pick it up again. lol


message 25: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Gonçalves (danielgoncalves) | 2 comments I am with you, people. Book was horrible


message 26: by Sara (last edited Jan 19, 2015 12:58AM) (new)

Sara Isayama | 2 comments My impression of this book, is it felt like something Baby Boomers felt young people needed to read, because they were impacted by books like Fahrenheit 451 or Logan's Run, and so arbitrarily decided this was the book they were going to force down the Millenial's throats.

But you know, there's an old saying that the British have: "a sweater is something a child wears when it's mother feels cold".

I ended up not finishing this book. It was just too stupid. I heard about the ending from other people and it was still stupid. And I just watched the movie, and while the movie was much better than the book, it was still stupid. There's just far better material out there that conveys the same ideas with much better impact, and meaning. And without the shallow preachyness that insults the intelligence of the reader.

The whole thing just felt contrived and two-dimensional, where the whole purpose of the book was simply to be a propaganda piece to "teach kids a lesson" rather than being an actually good book to read. It just felt artificial, and no thank you, I'm not and wasn't interested in wearing this sweater. Frankly I have (and had) far better things to read, written by people with actual talent.

If you really want a great dystopian story, watch Equalibrium, or Code 46. You don't need to read this. If you really want to read a masterpiece of this genre, that you will actually enjoy, read Eudeamon. It's better than Ender's Game. (and it's free to download too, just google "Eudaemon evil dolly".


OneFootInHellAlready (one-foot-in-hell-already) | 12 comments "A sweater is something a child wears when it's mother is cold" is not an old British saying. We called them jumpers not sweaters and I have never heard of that... Just to correct you.


message 28: by Sara (last edited Jan 19, 2015 04:09PM) (new)

Sara Isayama | 2 comments There's nothing to correct. I heard it from an old English lady. And she used the word "sweater". ;)

And, I would point out, that arguing over the difference between "sweater" and "jumper" is pedantic, and arguably pretentious.

Don't be a troll.


message 29: by Lori S. (new)

Lori S. (fuzzipueo) | 77 comments Also, I thought jumper was another word for tee shirt.


message 30: by Elliot (new)

Elliot W. | 1 comments This is an ancient thread, but I recently finished this book and I have some things to say (because I want to--don't mind me).

As a teenage reader who loved Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Animal Farm and to some extent the Hunger Games (at least compared to this book) this book was a slog to read. What it had going for it (considering what everybody else said) is it's 'message' and that's it. People seem to like defending this book by saying "It's supposed to be boring and monotone, that's the point" which is both counterproductive and wrong, since neither Jonas and the Giver are anymore interesting than the rest of the cast (I found myself gravitating more to Benjamin, the briefly mentioned character in the beginning, because at least he seems to have an interesting story and character ahead of him besides "I-Was-Born-with-Light-Eyes-and-Am-Special" Jonas. Pitch comparison: A special boy in a dystopian/anti-utopian world tries to save it via emotions vs A special boy whose advanced in the ranks of rehabilitative sciences in a dystopian/anti-utopian world helps makes it technologically better despite being subconsciously aware of it's fatal flaws. )

I admire the idea of showing how important the emotions of pain and sorrow are, but honestly I also recently watched Inside Out and somehow that movie has done a better job at translating the complexity of emotions than this book has. And they're both aimed at children. Lowry seems content at telling me that emotions are important, and telling me that life is valuable, and telling me that there is something wrong with the world she's created, and while I agree on all points I'm not exactly pleased that she isn't [i]showing[/i] me any of this. 1984 did a way better job at making a boring and oppressive world with the occasional happy drone, and it made it [i]scarily[/i] real. The Giver is like a thirteen year old's idea of 1984, shallow and creatively bankrupt. I'm told that when Lily laughs and plays with Jonas it's not 'real' happiness, but I'm never shown the difference between 'real' happiness and fake happiness. I don't get to see the privileges of either, or the cons of both. Pain does make emotions deeper and more meaningful, but if I were introduced to this concept via the Giver I would immediately say "bollocks."

I haven't even mentioned all the plotholes, and the 'emotions are better than science' sentiment this book seems to ooze with. I feel like the Giver is a book meant for younger children, 13 and under children, because none of my 16 year old classmates liked it and I certainly wasn't impressed. There's nothing wrong with that necessarily, but by God did I hate this book nonetheless. 'Preaching' isn't even the end of the problem.


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