The Giver by Lois Lowry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another book club read. This one was a quick, easy read. I finished it in one night.
I hadn’t heard anything about this one either – except that it was going to be a movie.
Turns out that it is another dystopian novel. It is quite similar in story to Divergent, and even to the Maze Runner (although only tangentially there).
I did enjoy it (although not as much as Divergent), and I’m intrigued that it has received so many awards.
Setting: The story is set somewhere in the US. In a small town that has secluded itself from other towns and areas. Everyone has a job and is given a job when they turn 12. The job is supposed to fit them perfectly. In any case, there is not much information given about the area so it feels bland and unobtrusive. We do learn that the weather is always nice and has been so for a long time. The town keeps everyone in the dark about history and bad things.
Plot: The plot is that a 12 year old boy is asked to be the new “memory” for the town. He becomes the receiver of all good and bad memories (from the Giver) so that the rest of the town doesn’t have to have them because they want everything calm and controlled. But, as he learns the “truth” about his town and their way of life, his perceptions and morals change.
Characters: Jonas is the main character, although the title character is also prominent since he is giving the memories to Jonas. At first, all the characters seem likeable and pleasant, but as we get to know them, we see that they are all rather flat. This is not bad in this case, because that is what the author is going for. Jonas has some genetic or special gift that they don’t have that makes him able to receive the memories. We learn much about his thoughts and feelings throughout the book.
Conflict: The main conflict is with Jonas trying to figure out what it all means. This is more an “idea” story, so conflict and character are not really that prominent or important compared to the “message” being given. It seemed all a bit too heavy-handed to me, which is why I’m so surprised it earned a Newberry award.
Text: The writing is actually well-done for the effect that is being created – especially with word choice that makes everything seem calm and nice. There is an abundance of oxymorons and softening language to belie the depth of the darkness that lives in the story.
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