Friday, 3 October 2014

The Giver by Lois Lowry **Review**

The Giver
Series: The Giver Quartet #1
Pages: 240
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Release date: 5th May 2008 (this ed)
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
It's a perfect world, where everything looks right. But ugly truths lie beneath the surface! It is the future. There is no war, no hunger, no pain. No one in The Community wants for anything. Everyone is provided for. Each Family Unit is entitled to one female and male child. Each member of The Community has their profession carefully chosen for them by the Committee of Elders, and they never make a mistake. Jonas, a sensitive twelve-year-old boy, had never thought there was anything wrong with his Community, until one day. From the moment Jonas is selected as the Receiver of Memory at The Ceremony, his life is never the same. Jonas discovers that The Community is not as perfect as it seems. Although they appear to have everything, they are missing something of great importance. It is up to Jonas, with the help of the Giver, to find what long ago had been lost. And so Jonas embarks on an adventure to save the world as he knows it.

Simply and beautifully written, The Giver is sure to touch the heart of every reader. Lois Lowry deals with issues of everyday life that are so often taken for granted.Through the noble character of Jonas, she presents a glimpse of what could be the future. As the tension in the novel mounts, so does the number of questions that Lowry confronts the reader with. The Giver is a book of courage and adventure, and most importantly, one of deep thought. Once readers make contact with Lowry's treasure, they may never see things exactly quite the same. Lowry presents a forceful novel that demands to be heard and philosophically dealt with.

The Giver, up until recently, has not been a book that I've heard spoken about all that much. It was recommended to me about a year ago by a fellow bookseller-from-across-the-pond, who is also a BookTuber.
I don't quite understand why it doesn't seem to be as well known – it was originally published in 1993 and has even been published as an essential modern classic in the UK – it's also seriously epic. Only since it was released as a movie has it really seemed to come into the common consciousness, and even then it's not mentioned nearly as much as other book adaptations like The Hunger Games or Divergent. It certainly deserves to be.

The Giver is set in an idealistic community of 'sameness' – there is no colour, no class system, no one goes hungry and everyone is assigned a job that best fits them and the needs of the community as a whole. And it works. There is no war, no hunger, no apparent disease. Everyone gets on well and their society is ordered and peaceful.
But it is also sadly lacking. Lacking in proper feeling, real joy, love and appreciation. Yes, they appear to want for nothing, but does that make them truly happy? And then there are the darker secrets that lie buried beneath the shiny facade ...

Jonas, our protagonist, is chosen on his twelfth birthday to be the next Receiver of Memory – the member of the community who is granted the 'honour' of containing within themselves all the memories of the past. It is their sole responsibility to retain these memories and put them to use when advising the other members of the community. I was immediately suspicious of the 'honour' that this would really give, and it soon became clear that not everything was as 'perfect' as it might appear in Jonas's world.

I really enjoyed The Giver. The narrative immediately sucked me in and the story moves forward at such a pace that I never lost interest for a moment. I was constantly wondering what would be around the next corner, what memory Jonas would receive next, and what the consequences would be. I'm even more intrigued now, having finished the book, about what is going to happen next.
I also loved the characters – they breathed life into every page and, despite Jonas's world being so different from the world we know, it made everything feel all the more real. As the story went on, I felt more sympathetic towards the members of the community, gradually realising what they were missing and just how ignorant they were. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Jonas is going to do in order to save them.

If you've not yet read The Giver, I seriously suggest that you pick it up right away. This is a book that certainly deserves the title of 'modern classic' and one that I can see being enjoyed by many more generations to come. A seriously awesome read.


Susan Maclean said...

Read this myself, last year, and agree with your views. It was a quite different and thought provoking read.

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