Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on June 22, 2015 | 6 Comments

Review: The Giver by Lois LowryThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver Quartet #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin (4.26.1993)
Genres: Classic, Dystopian, Young Adult
Format: Paperback, 179 pages
Source: Library

3 Stars

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

The Giver is set in a future society which is at first presented as a utopia and gradually appears more and more dystopic, so could therefore be considered anti-utopian. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life. Jonas' society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to "Sameness", a plan which has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory," the person who stores all the memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. As Jonas receives the memories from his predecessor—the "Giver"—he discovers how shallow his community's life has become.

My thoughts

I’m not really sure how I felt about this book, to be honest. Rating it was very difficult! On one hand, the idea was interesting and unique. Brilliant, really. On the other hand, the prose was horribly sophomoric and I felt a massive disconnect because it was so dry.

I kinda wish this had been required reading when I was in high school. I probably would have loved it if I’d read it when I was much younger. But the way it was written was juvenile to the point that this was practically at a middle grade reading level. The prose was very vanilla and lacked any kind of feeling. I couldn’t connect to the story or any of the characters. I didn’t really care. View Spoiler »

The saving grace of this book was definitely the unique concept. I loved that part of it! I loved the idea of the Giver and the memories. I also thought it was cool that they were so detached from the past that there were no longer any colors. The society was the definition of bland.

I also like that this novel conveys the fact that life isn’t worth living without the good and the bad. That you can’t have the good without the bad. That pain is part of living.

I must say that I’m very interested to see the movie after reading the book. Like I said, I did really enjoy the concept of it all. I’m hoping that it will come to life a little more on the big screen!

Side note: It’s kind of funny, because the whole time I was reading the book I was thinking to myself, ‘Jeff Bridges would be PERFECT for the Giver. He NEEDS to be the Giver. Why didn’t they cast him as the Giver?’ (I don’t know why I thought it was some random older guy) And then I looked up the cast and realized that he was, indeed, the Giver. I clearly rock. XD

Overall Assessment

Plot: 3.5/5
Premise: 5/5
Writing style: 2/5
Originality: 5/5
Characters: 2.5/5
World-building: 4/5
Pace: 3.5/5
Feels: 1/5
Overall rating: 3/5

Jessi (Geo)

Posted in: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

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6 responses to “Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

  1. I’ve always thought that The Giver was a middle grade book, not young adult. I could definitely be wrong because I don’t actually know what it’s designated as, but I was required to read it in sixth grade. Everyone I’ve talked to who read it in school have said they read it in middle school as well.

    Anyway, I love it, and I recently re-read it and still love it. It’s one of those books where I’ll probably never know how much of that has to do with connecting to it as a child. I absolutely fell in love with it when we read it in school though. A lot of my class did, and it was probably because our teacher loved it too. She was so excited about it. In fact, our teacher loved Lois Lowry so much that we read her book Number the Stars too, which I also really enjoyed. I feel like a lot of people I talk to who only read The Giver later in life aren’t as enthusiastic about it as people who read it as kids though.

  2. My boyfriend loves this book but I on the other hand, have to agree with you lol the writing style IS very juvenile and there was no connection with me and the characters as well. Although, the only character that I did enjoy reading about was the Giver himself! Anyways, great review! I look forward to more from you soon! Happy reading!

  3. I do somewhat agree with you about this one. While I enjoyed it, I wasn’t in love with it like others have been. Maybe it’s because I have read so many dystopian novels. Hunger Games was the first dystopian novel I ever read and it set the bar pretty high.

  4. It has been years since I have read the Giver, but I’m in the same boat as you. I wish it had been required reading during the school year, because I know I would have gotten so much more out of it than what I actually did. To be quite honest, I had forgotten about the majority of what happens in the book. I feel bad about it too, because The Giver is supposed to be this great classic or what have you. Great review!

  5. I read The Giver as required reading in one of my college philosophy classes and immediately fell in love with it. It’s definitely not for everyone and you’re right in the critiques you’ve made. The story though, I feel it’s very original and a little ahead of it’s time. It’s definitely a good starting point for younger readers who want something a little bit more.

  6. Sam

    I completely agree. I read this book fairly recently and was expecting a lot more from it. I also found the writing to be much more immature than I had expected, but the concept was great and unique. I too think I would have enjoyed it more had I read it when I was younger.

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