Thursday, May 23, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (The Giver, #1)

I remember reading The Giver in Jr. High and liking it then, and was pleasantly surprised that I still enjoyed it after oh gawd, 14 years ago. (Remember I thought I liked The Great Gatsby back in the day too).
(there may be spoilers but I’m assuming everyone has read it in Grade 8)
“The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without colour, pain or past.” 
Jonas lives in a world where there is no choice. Everything is perfect- the same; essentially, communism at its best (although they do not actually ever say the ‘C’ word).  Food is rationed to give every person in the family unit the exact amount of nutrition needed to perform. Speaking of the family unit, you have to apply to be ‘married’ and your spouse is assigned to you based on personality and compatibility. You then would have to apply for a child, one boy and one girl.   The lack of choice in this world is crazy. I mean, they even stifle puberty, heaven forbid  the first time you have a wet dream you have to be put on a medication to stop the longing of the opposite sex.  And you can’t even get away with hiding those dreams because every morning there is ‘dream sharing’ time and don’t forget ‘feeling hour’.   I think that the family unit talking to one another is a great thing and you should try and help decipher feelings, but jeesh, a little overkill when it’s mandatory.   When there is anything different, it is taken care of like twins for example.
 Certain gifts are given every year like age 4 you get a pocket sewn on your coat (wooo!), age 9 you get a bike, and age 12 you get a job assigned to you. First off, could you imagine being assigned a job that officials have picked for you over careful observation. Secondly, at 12!! Child labor laws apparently do not exist.  I’m not gonna lie, if it wasn’t for the 12 year old part, I would love this. Have someone else put me in a guaranteed job. Heck yes.  

At the job assignment ceremony, Jonas is handpicked to be a Memory Receiver (I cannot recall the actual name of it at this moment) and to be trained by The Giver.  The Giver is old, frail, and tired from the burden of holding onto all these memories, eager to pass them onto someone new.  Jonas will eventually hold all the memories of their world, as well as those that came before the world of no choice.  I loved the description of some of these memories, like the one where Jonas experiences snow for the first time. Something us Calgarians sometimes wish we didn’t have. I kept thinking The Giver as being Dumbledore’s pensieve , they  have all these memories being stored and with a flick of a wand/or hand transference poof memory is gone and transferred!
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
Yes, there wasn’t that much character development other than for Jonas, but  I think that is part of the plot. They are all the same. The don’t question things, don’t feel, mainly because they never had the chance to have those memories. I like that it’s a black and white world, that Jonas is special enough to start seeing colors.  It shows that sometimes there is more than just a right and wrong.  
The ending did seem like it just came and it was predicatable, but it worked.

I give this book a 4 stars. It’s a very short and easy read.


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