I forgot how much I love this book.
The Giver…the original dystopia. (At least for me, it was the first dystopia I read.) (For all you Brave New World enthusiasts)
Jonas’ world is perfect. No conflict, no pain. No hate, no problems. Everything is pre-planned: assigned with heavy contemplation. Choices are not made lightly.
When he turns twelve, Jonas is selected to be the receiver of memory, and meets the Giver. Only the Giver and Jonas hold the memories of a long forgotten past. Only they know the truth.
What I love about the plot is the order in which Jonas receives memories. It’s carefully constructed such that you hate the fact that the truth has been taken, but you also understand why they had to be taken in the first place.
Jonas grows from childhood to adulthood over the course of a year, and reading that progression is great.
I don’t entirely understand the ending. And I’m not going to pretend that I do. But it seemed to fit. And I’d call it satisfying enough.
Jonas is an interesting character to critique. Mostly because he’s a blank slate that grows into a character as the novel progresses. Yes, he’s brave and compassionate and intelligent, and those traits become more apparent as the story goes on. He doesn’t know anything, and over the course of the no el he learns so much.
Most of the characters in The Giver are robotic due to circumstance. Fiona and Asher have stock traits, but very little beyond that.
Jonas begins with these stock traits: he’s naive, he’s duty-driven. But over the course of the novel he learns to think with not only his head, but his heart and instinct as well.
The only other character I can comment on is the Giver, who is a tortured father-like figure. He’s the older version of Jonas, one made wise by time and memories.
There is no doubt that Lowry’s world building is extensive and descriptive. I love the concept of stages of initiation, and there are heaps of thought put into Jonas’ community.
I do wish I understood the mechanics of the memories better. How does leaving release them? How are they contained?
Other than that, the writing is solid. The novel is well paced; descriptive, yet concise. At times formulaic, at others raw with emotion. And I love the jarring contrast.
“If you can’t feel, what’s the point?”
I distinctly recall this quote from the movie because I felt like they were throwing the theme in my face. Which they were.
The Giver is about how logic isn’t the only thing necessary for a successful life. Choice, individuality, pain, love—all of these are important too. What’s more, they make life worth it.
I also have to say that the book has a great deal of morality. In a world with no concept of extremes, can there be morals? The idea of release is huge in this idea.
The key to understanding this book isn’t comparing Jonas’ world and our own. It’s comparing how the people in Jonas’ world think in comparison to our own way of thinking. What do we take for granted? What would it mean to you if it was taken away? The idea isn’t that Jonas is special. The idea is that the community is missing something.
I have always loved the story of The Giver. It is compelling and great read. It has important lessons to teach and a great story to tell.
Recommendation: Bookmarked for life. I’m glad I read this book for school when I was 12. I recommend it to everyone, but especially young people.