{Banned Books Week} Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

September 24, 2014 Book 7 ★★★★½

{Banned Books Week} Review: The Giver by Lois LowryThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Genres: Adolescence, Classic, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Fantasy, Fiction, Social Issues, Young Adult
Published by Ember on August 1st 1994
Source: Lended
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four-half-stars

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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I'm Jennifer. Addicted reader, and lover of books. I'm a full-time college student majoring in English Liturature and Linguistics & Communication, with aspirations of being a professional editor. Among other things. In the meantime, I obsess over books, history, art, and politics. I believe in freedom of speech and reading whatever you want. Open to discussions about anything and everything 🙂
  • I’ve always wanted to read this book. I’ve had the book for a long time, but I haven’t even snuck a peek. With this book slump I’ve got, I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to reading anything.

    • jmmbookworm

      I KNOW THE FEEL! I’ve read mostly books I have home and some bought from friends when I don’t feel lazy to read, or to review. Sometimes one page read or written can motivate you to get out of the slump. I hope you like The Giver whenever you decide to give it a try 🙂

  • Great review Jennifer, I remember reading this when I was on vacation and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it! Like it was so thought provoking and much more deeper than I thought it would. Still one of my favourite dystopians, and the movie really did it justice 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

    • jmmbookworm

      I’m glad to know you liked it as well! I could say this is one of my dystopian reads because of how deep it can be when you read it. And, even though I didn’t like some things of the movie, I can say it did kind of did a justice to the book because it delivers the same message as the book, though in a different way, still good 🙂

  • My thoughts exactly Jennifer! This is one of my favorite books of all-time, and it really holds a special spot in my heart because it was one of the books that inspired me to start reviewing / blogging; and I adore it for that. Like you said, the book itself is simple; but, on the other hand, it is so thought-provoking and wonderful. This is one of the only books I’ve ever read that has truly made me think and see the world in a different way, and I adore it for that. Thanks for sharing Jennifer, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! Welcome back from your hiatus! <3

    • jmmbookworm

      Woo I’m so glad there’s someone else who thoughts similar to me regarding this book! I had seen some reviews that completely hated it, but oh well, we all have the right to disagree sometimes. The Giver is simply amazing, and I think its simplicity is part of its charm to those who one they read it, they fall in love. I know that I can read it again and again and find new things in it each time. Thank you so much for your support! It means a lot <3 I'm (officially again) back form hiatus for good. I'm done with college tests and less stress, so more blogging! 😀

  • I have a short list (currently three books), that I’m going to make a priority to read in 2015, and this is one of them 🙂