Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The GiverThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Read: March 10, 2013
Book club selection – dystopia genre

Book Blurb: Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

My Opinion: My first thought upon completing this book was that it belonged alongside the likes of 1984. I was actually quite stunned to find it had been published in my lifetime.

The Giver is a really interesting book to me, because it sparks so much discussion among those who have read it. I read it over a month ago, so some of the finer details are already fuzzy, but I recall thinking it wasn’t really a children’s book. Then I encountered people who felt it was too simplified, which is well within their right to think of course, but hard to determine. Where do we draw the line?

I don’t dabble in politics much (or really, at all) so the claims of The Giver being simply a piece of anti-socialism propaganda are a little outside of my realm of comfort and knowledge. But I will say it is hardly the first time a book has shaken things up in the political sense, and I doubt it will be the last.

For me, I enjoyed The Giver. The quick change from utopia to dystopia is not something I have seen very often, at least in contemporary works, and it was a really refreshing change. I find a lot of the dystopian novels I read are very cut and dried that they are dystopian. There is not something missing, there is not something more. Yet, here we have a distinct lack that is pointed out in a big way. I don’t want to give away the whole book, so I won’t go into any more detail, but I loved the way it was told.

In some ways, The Giver is very much a children’s novel. The characters are not really delved into very much, though I was very appreciative that Jonas was portrayed very much as a standard young man. He didn’t read as older or younger than his years, which is something that can be hard to do when writing a younger character… especially in a situation where the world they are dealing with is so heavy.

The writing was technically fine, and I enjoyed the narrative voice. It kept the story moving at a good pace.

The story of The Giver is hard to define. I really wanted more details, and that is where I feel it very much fell flat. Given more details, more worldbuilding, this novel could have been truly magnificent. And the ending was the kind that drives readers insane, and not in a good way.

Bottom Line: A children’s utopian/dystopian novel surrounded in so many opinions that I hesitate to add my own voice. I feel like you will either really like it or really not, and I encourage you to pick it up and see which category you fall into.


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