Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver
Series: The Giver Quartet, Book 1
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Ember
Length: 192 Pages
Original Publication Date: 1993
Available Format: Hardback, Paperback, Mass Market Paperback, Kindle Edition, eBook, Audiobook.
Source: Bought
My Rating: ★★★★★
Get it @: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Book Description:

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.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this story. The book was one of my required reading materials for my Literature for Young Adults course. Out of the four novels assigned (The Giver, The Chocolate War, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Old Man and the Sea) The Giver was my top favorite. In truth I enjoyed all of the novels but The Chocolate War...

The Giver plays heavily on the concept that one person's utopia is another person's dystopia.

The main character is Jonas, a twelve-year-old boy who was born in Sameness; a place both physical (the town where he lives) and spacial (the time in history). In Sameness, individuality was completely destroyed for the sake of equality and uniformity. When kids are born they don't belong to their birthing mothers, they are part of the community and are re-assigned to their new, permanent "family". Emotions have been so distilled down that no one in town can truly claim to know what love is for real.

Education and development is carefully controlled by the town's elders with a highly strict yearly system. For example, when kids turn 7 years of age they are given a front-buttoned jacket. Until that time they were never allowed to wear clothing with buttons at the front. When they turn twelve they are assigned their future career. That's when we meet Jonas, when he is about to go through his (and every other "12-year-old's") Ceremony of Twelve.

As Jonas moves forward on his new assigned job he learns the full truth behind his town, humanity's history, and the high price that was paid in order to achieve Sameness. To a point, the book can be compared to the movie Pleasantville. In fact, the early parts of the story are pretty much in grey scale  and as Jonas moves forward and re-discovers emotions his world begins to turn to Technicolor.

I loved the juxtaposition of what is right versus what is perceived as being right. Definitively a story I would recommend to any book lover. The Giver is a pure science fiction book set on a dystopian world that forces you to evaluate your definition of freedom, how much of it you have and what are you willing to sacrifice in order to either obtain it or keep it.

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