Until news of the movie adaptation made headlines, I really knew nothing about The Giver. It wasn’t something that ever appeared as a book I should read even though many Goodreads friends have read and recommend it. Given the film is something I would rent, I made time to read what turned out to be a relatively short novel.
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STORY: It’s a perfect world that Jonas has grown up in. Everything is equal in a world without lies, jealously, feelings of love or memories of what the world once was. Jonas is about to become a 12. He’s reaches an age where he has to take injections to quell the “stirrings” and he attends the ceremony to learn what factor he’ll be a part of. His friend Fiona loves caring for people and is assigned to this work. Jonas doesn’t receive placement at the ceremony only he soon finds out there is a reason; He’s been chosen for a very special assignment as the new keeper of memories. Suddenly during his training, an entirely new world opens to him. He no longer has to adhere to the same rules – and the memories (ones full of things he never saw) start to awaken Jonas to real living.
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Little that I know about this series specifically, what I understand of The Giver is that this is kind of the “original” dystopian novel.
Those of you who are fans of this quartet of books can correct me if I’m wrong, but author notes leads me to believe this. Even a couple of weeks after reading this, I’m honestly not sure what to say about it. To be fair, I read a good portion of it on Thanksgiving Day when talk of meal planning and a football game makes background noise. All of which could play a part in my lack of focus on the story. With that being put out there, I’ll share some of my thoughts on this beloved novel.
I’m not sure what to say about this book honestly since I cannot seem to help every “dystopian” comparison. At the start it’s not hard to understand this is going to be more of a quiet sort of story. It’s both a refreshing change and something of a challenge because I’ll admit all of the memory transference can (in places) bog the book down. That’s what the majority of the book is; Jonas remembering memories that aren’t. It’s a world he and his fellow neighbors never knew. Their council believes that by depriving citizens of such things, there can never something to wipe out humanity. It’s certainly an interesting concept though not one that always works.
Honestly, for me, this is one story that works better as a movie. The book didn’t capture me in the same way the film does nor did it affect me the same. Where the film has a kind of wonderment and room for your imagination to go wild, the book is stiff in comparison. Plus add in the rigid ideology equality, and as a book, this one isn’t a favorite. Why then did I give the book 4 stars? Overall, I probably like this the best of the dystopian novels I’ve read (so far) plus the cinematic story mostly impresses. (And it IS good.)
The Giver is that quiet, deep-thinking kind of story that you read on a dreary day when you want an emotional challenge. It’s one I’d like to read again when I’m more focused, because I do think my mind might change if I read it in a quieter environment. Jonas is a hero to admire, no question. I liked that he stood up for what he teachings revealed. No matter the cost.
About the Book:
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Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 1993
Find the Review elsewhere: Amazon | Goodreads
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Series: The Giver Quartet, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Dystopian, Young Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5