Monday, January 31, 2011

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Rated: C)
Dell Laurel-Leaf Books
ISBN: 978-0440237686
Published Sept 2002
Paperback, 192 pages

I read most of this book in one afternoon, so absorbed was I in its story, in its characters and in the subtle way the author built the dystopian society.

Jonas lives in a perfect world where everything is controlled and all choices are made for its citizens, such as what they wear, who will be their mate, how they live and what their assigned job will be. There is no true pain or pleasure. When Jonas turns twelve, he will receive his assignment, determining his role in the community. He is chosen as the Receiver of Memory, an honoured position since there is only one such person for all the communities. Jonas is introduced to The Giver and during his training he learns the truth about his world and this changes everything for him.

I read through this book quite quickly but that is not to say this is a simple story. On the contrary, the author does such a good job of gradually revealing the dystopian world that initially the reader can be fooled into believing it is a good way to live, until we discover the true implications and that giving up challenges and hardships for total conformity, lack of choices, and essentially a brainwashed life is not really living at all.

It made me reflect that it's one of the reasons God created us with free will—the freedom to choose between doing what is right or wrong with subsequent consequences for either choice. The book emphasized to me the wisdom in how we were created as humans and the disastrous results when man takes away his fellowman's freedom to choose.

I did not find this book depressing and I think it suitable for a YA audience but not necessarily a middle-grade one since some scenes are sad and could be disturbing for a sensitive reader. I enjoyed this book so much that it caught me off guard when it ended abruptly without further explanation as to what exactly happens to Jonas, The Giver and two other characters in the end. Don't get me wrong. The ending is satisfactory but lacking and really leaves it all to the reader's imagination. Regardless, I recommend it to all lovers of dystopian books, and I am looking forward to reading Gathering Blue and Messenger, which are companions to The Giver.

I will count this book toward the following challenges: TwentyEleven Challenge, YA Reading Challenge, Dystopian Challenge and the Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge

Disclosure: I bought this book used and I was not told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. Funny that you mentioned that it may not be suitable for a middle school audience as that is when my son was assigned to read it. I read it too and found that it spurred some great discussions. Apparently, not everyone appreciates it as I saw that it was listed on the "banned books list." (I think due to the infanticide).

  2. A friend of mine reads it every year to her 4th grade class and always has a great discussion.
    This is one of my favorite books of all times.


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