Genres: Adolescence, Classic, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Fantasy, Fiction, Social Issues, Young Adult
Published by Ember on August 1st 1994
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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.
In the community where Jonas lives, Sameness is the norm. No one stands out and everyone is exactly the same. There is no hunger, there is no war, there is no conflict of any kind. Once Jonas becomes a Twelve and is chosen by his community as the new Receiver of memories, only then does he begins to understand the cost of having such a perfect world around him. As he starts to think more like an adult than like a child, Jonas is faced with the hard decision of continuing his work like the previous Receivers like him from back and back and back, or change things once and for all.
I had read this book early 2013 when I was in tenth grade because a friend lend it to me. I was instantly hooked and loved it, yet never got to write a review (early days before reviewing). Now I got to read it again after watching the movie Equilibrium for my AP English class, and the teacher lend it to me (again, not mine D:). Plus also on time for the MOVIE! 😀
The thing about The Giver is that this simple and short book has so much to give to the world.
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” Said by the Giver.
Jonas is the new Receiver of memories in this community where no one, minus him and the Giver, know what happened before sameness. I didn’t like Jonas much because he often felt like a bland character, or at least at first. But, I dunno if it was on purpose or not, but it makes me think that everyone in this story is the same as him, so uninteresting and without personality. Everyone except the Giver. He was so full of knowledge, it’s like when you’re a kid and you start to listen to the stories told by your parents or grandparents or other family members. I loved his complex and tortured soul for having to carry the burden the community put on him as the keeper of memories.
While some might find this book boring and without action (I have thought the same sometimes) the thing about it is that it makes you think. It has a passive-aggressive kind of approach on the subject that emotions are necessary, and as much as you might try to contain and eradicate these things, they are part of who we are as humans. The mistakes, the rage, the war, but also the peace, the love, the kindness… You can;t one without the other, and that’s what define us as humans and beings that are living and not just surviving every day until the day we die, or like in the book, Released.
Which brings me to this… I cannot imagine a world where I can’t see color, read books (OH THE BOOKS), know art, the great diversity of animals and scenery all around us… I just can’t. And it makes me think about how I should do something about it. Because as the book says, there came a time for them where there was too much war, too much hunger, too much population, too much of everything and they had to create sameness to control it, for a high price. Do we want to reach a similar, if not worse, situation? Do we want a government of some sort choosing everything for us, from a family, what we eat, where we work, how we dress, who we relate to, and even when we die? I don’t. I might have to obey to some things of the government and my family, but I still have the freedom to choose some of my own things for my own life that is mine. Meanwhile, Jonas and others of his community, don’t have that luxury.
That’s the kind of things this book makes you think. If not more. It’s thought-provoking, conflicting (it’s a banned book for a reason), inspiring, and overall interesting to see something so possible with the things we are living. Some might think these kind of issues don’t concern kids since this book is targeted for them, but I think they are wrong. Why not show them in the form of literature what can happen if they too continue on the footsteps of those who have put so many animals in danger, who have contaminated our world, who have created wars instead of maintaining the peace? I might be guilty of some of these, but I can make a change. And young, developing minds, can do a change too if they choose to do so from an early age as they start to think more as adults than like children, just like it happened to Jonas.
So, is this reason enough to pick it up? I assure you that it’s definitely worth it. You might hate the slow-pace or the lack of mayor action points like in some dystopian novels of the new millennium, or even compared to The Giver movie that was recently released. But you’ll like it, hopefully. It might frustrate a bit, like the ending OH MY GOD THAT ENDING I HATE IT EVERY TIME I READ IT. But all’s cool… all’s cool…
Rating: 4.5 stars
PS. Also, since we’re celebrating Banned Books Week, this is a nice choice to read in your free time as a silent rebellion millions like us have joined. Fight for the freedom to read, and read a Banned Book of your choice! Happy reading!
PSS. I’m back from my blogging hiatus YAAAAY! 😀 Hopefully I’ll be around more little by little… :3
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