Friday, December 31, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: January 24th 2006 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (originally published in 1993)
Format: Paperback, 179 pgs.
When Jonas turns 12, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. Now, it’s time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
I don't know where I've been that I've never read this before, but until recently I'd never even seen a copy of this book on the shelves. Regardless, I always hear people talking about it and what a wonderful dystopian it is, and I have to agree.
Sameness has become the norm, and choice is a thing no one even knows about. Each year at the Ceremony of Twelve all eleven-year-olds turn twelve together and receive their job assignments, but Jonas is passed over for assignment. Instead, he is selected to be the new Receiver of Memories; it becomes his job to learn the truth about his world, and why things are the way they are. Why no one does their own dishes and family units are only allowed two children, one girl and one boy. But the truth is painful, and Jonas doesn't want to bear it alone.
The world building is wonderful, and I absolutely love the way the memories unfold and Jonas learns the truth. Lois Lowry has a way with description, bringing you into each memory and experience for the first time with Jonas, that is so incredibly real it's kind of unnerving. This book is intriguing and heartbreaking on every single page, and you don't even realize it while you're reading.
If you're a fan of Robert Cormier, you'll probably like The Giver; the entire time I was reading it I kept flashing back to I Am the Cheese. Much like Cormier, Lowry writes in a raw and powerful way that leaves you wanting more, and the endings aren't much different. They're vague and open-ended, leaving you wondering exactly what happened, which is the only reason I can't give this book 5/5 stars. It's a personal preference, and one I can't overlook here. I wanted to know what happened back in the city, what happened to Jonas, what was going to happen. There were too many things left unsaid and unanswered for my tastes in the end, though I do have my own theories.
Ending aside, The Giver is a fantastic dystopian novel that sucks you in completely. I highly recommend it for lovers of science fiction and fantasy and for any one looking for a quick read. If you don't like ambiguous endings, you might want to have the other books on hand, I hear they at least clear things up a bit.
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