My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book took me two days to read – on a weekend where I was INSANELY busy. I would have finished this in a day – no question. Lois Lowry’s The Giver is a powerful story, a natural precursor for younger readers before they tackle something like 1984 or Brave New World.
Jonas lives in a society where everything is pleasant and calm. Parents do not have their own children – they have to apply for them and if approved, they are given a child. There are women who have the children of course, but they are the dregs of this society – chosen at 12 as “procreators”, they bear 3 children each and then they work as labourers for the rest of their lives, never knowing their children. The old all live together and, at a designated time, they are “released”.
When a child turns 12, they are assigned a station in life. This is similar to the reaping in The Hunger Games (although that is arbitrary) or the assigning of groups in Divergent.
When it comes time for Jonas to be assigned, he is singled out and declared The Receiver. This is a high honour and Jonas discovers there have been only a few Receivers. The new Receiver is sent to work with the current Receiver, who then becomes The Giver. The Giver holds within his mind all the memories of the people. Emotions, history, sensory events, colours – the Giver has them all and gives them to Jonas, who will eventually become an advisor to the Council.
When he starts to learn the true nature of some parts of his society, Jonas is appalled. He is frightened, but most of all he is angry. He cannot share this with anyone except The Giver, because he is sworn not to share what he has learned. It is his burden to bear alone.
I do not want to divulge too much, because the impact of this book should not be diminished, but as Jonas learns more and more he discovers exactly what his father does in his job, and what some of his friends are trained to do in theirs and he knows something has to change.
Together, Jonas and The Giver plan to bring their world to its knees, but life, as it always does, intervenes.
I really enjoyed this book. Lowry’s prose is engaging and evocative. She is very good at making the reader exist in Jonas’s skin, which is no mean feat.
I look forward to seeing the film to see how well they handle some of the content – I have my suspicions it will be somewhat watered down. I hope not.
If you have not read this book before, pick it up before you see the movie.
For Readers 12 and up.