Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: The Giver - Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Series: Giver Quartet #1
Genre: YA, dystopian, futuristic
Published on April 26, 1993
Published by HMH Books
Pages: 180
Read From: 1.26.12 - 1.26.12

"It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened." 
Thus opens this haunting novel in which a boy inhabits a seemingly ideal world: a world without conflict, poverty, unemployment, divorce, injustice, or inequality. It is a time in which family values are paramount, teenage rebellion is unheard of, and even good manners are a way of life. 

December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve year old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders, Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man - the man called only the Giver - he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Not exactly my favorite cover art in the world, but I don't mind it too much. The old man's face is enough in the style of a silhouette that I kind of like it.

Characters: Jonas is such an innocent, curious, and honest protagonist that it's nearly impossible to dislike him. Unless innocence annoys you, in which case Jonas will irritate you to no end. Jonas has been raised like all of the other kids in the Community - taught to be polite, respectful, truthful. But that doesn't change the fact that even when he learns the truth about the Community, he still remains a good person. His innocence, however, also makes it hard to pinpoint his age. I think he's probably supposed to be about thirteen, but I'm not certain. All of the other characters I liked well enough, except they weren't in the story enough to really form much of an impression. Fiona, Asher - I wish they had had bigger roles.

The Romance: Jonas begins to feel The Stirrings (and is quickly medicated for it) for Fiona. This is indicated through a dream Jonas has of wanting to give Fiona a bath, like they do the old people. While not graphic, it's a little. . . .uncomfortable and strange.

Plot: Jonas lives in a Community, where natural feelings have been suppressed, everyone taught extreme politeness, anything that can cause physical pain has been eliminated, and every civilian is encouraged - nay, required - to share their thoughts and feelings and dreams with their family unit every night and morning. Nothing is private. The Elders decide what job you get, families are permitted no more than two children (which they obtain from the Nurturing Center, and not through natural birth), and when children have become independent of their parents, their parents are sent to a home to no longer live as a family unit. Everything is perfect. Or so it seems. On the day Jonas and the other kids his age are to be assigned their jobs, he is chosen as the next Receiver of Memory. He will apprentice under The Giver, whose job it is to advice the Elders when they need it. When Jonas undertakes his position, he soon learns that not everything in the Community is as it seems, and that something vital has been totally and completely forgotten. I really like the world the Author creates. It's surreal and spooky, and the more you learn about it, the creepier it gets. However, the plot is a little slow and doesn't actually have much of a point. There is so much that could happen, but it doesn't. And I was sorry for it.

Believability: If there was a way to take away uniqueness and individuality, I could imagine the Community existing. But I don't think it would be created with "good intentions," as this one was.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. I've always enjoyed Lois Lowry's simple, yet elegant, writing style. And it works very effectively for this book, creating the surreal darkness of the Community.

Content: None.

Conclusion: It ends very abruptly. And that's all I'm going to say about the ending. The Giver is a very interesting, short read. I wish the Author had done more with the elements she had, but it's still a good book.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, ten-and-up, fans of dystopian.

Others in The Giver Quartet:
1)The Giver
2)Gathering Blue

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