Series: The Giver Quartet #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin (4.26.1993)
Genres: Classic, Dystopian, Young Adult
Format: Paperback, 179 pages
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.
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 »Although, I do have to say that the part where the Giver says Rosemary was his daughter gave me chills! I actually didn’t see that one coming. I assumed it was someone he had feelings for! « Hide 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
Writing style: 2/5
Overall rating: 3/5