The Giver by Lois Lowry
|The Giver by Lois Lowry|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: A brilliant, vividly imagined Dystopian read about a world with rules that have never really been challenged...until now|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: March 2014|
Jonas lives in a world were sameness has prevailed over individuality. There are rules, so many rules, which are adhered to, and which allow society to live without pain, suffering or conflict. These rules are rarely questioned, merely accepted. When they turn twelve, children in this world are assigned their future role in society by the Elders, and start training for it. These assignments are based on years of observation of their characters and aptitudes, and whether they are assigned to be a nurturer of the young or a caregiver of the elderly, a labourer who keeps the streets clean or someone who prepares and provides food, they are usually a good match for the person. At the assignment ceremony, Jonas is not given a typical role, however. He is selected to be the Receiver of Memory, a position given out only once every few generations. He will receive and store all the memories of the past which the rest of society are no longer burdened with, but which may be needed from time to time to aid in decision making and law enforcement.
This is an imaginative and well-crafted dystopia whose concepts are easy to grasp, however alien they may seem. The rules are simple: everyone does the same thing at the same time in their lives, and everything is preplanned to the finest detail. Couples are assigned based on complimentary characteristics and each family is assigned exactly one girl and one boy child, who are provided by birth mothers, a not too well thought of role to which some girls are allocated. All children receive the same presents on the same birthdays and ages are clearly identified by their clothing and hairstyles. Everyone knows their place.
That in itself would be quite an interesting story, albeit one that is heavier on description and lower on action than some. However, it doesn't end there. Jonas questions his role from the start. He doesn’t think it’s right. Why should no one else experience these things called colour and music that he is now privy to? How can it be that memories and knowledge of snow fall and sunshine are kept from people, now the world has lost its changing climate? Why should he alone have to bear the burden of wars, of death, of pain and suffering? With the Giver, the retiring Receiver who is passing the torch to Jonas, he talks through his concerns and they discuss ways things could change in a world that always stays the same.
This book won the 1994 Newbery Medal and was released the year before that, but is back again as it is being made into a film to be released imminently. I read a lot of the author's other books as a child, especially the Anastasia series, but didn’t come across this one first time around, so was delighted to discover it now. It is young adult fiction but like so many great teen, dystopian reads, it’s intriguing and appealing to older readers too. It is fraught with emotion and my heart was hammering in my chest towards the end as I wasn’t sure what could happen to right the wrongs Jonas was uncovering. There is certainly a lot of drama in the story, and it gets extremely tense at times.
I really enjoyed this book, reading it from cover to cover on a recent plane journey. Although the world is foreign, parts are grounded in a reality that will be familiar: parents and children living together in their homes, going to school and work during the day. Jonas is a strong lead and I liked his inquisitive nature and his desire to think beyond the rules, from why he should take medicine to reduce his ‘stirrings’ to questioning what happened when people were ‘released’ from the community, either at the end of a long life or earlier if things didn’t quite go right.
This is a wonderful book that makes you challenge what you know and accept to be true and proper in the world, and I’d like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy.
This book reminded me very much of a film I saw recently, based on the book Divergent by Veronica Roth
You can read more book reviews or buy The Giver by Lois Lowry at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Giver by Lois Lowry at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.