Book 03: The Giver

Photo courtesy of Zap 2 It

Title: The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry

Genre: YA, dystopia, Sci-fi

SummaryCourtesy of Goodreads

Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Eaten Thru On: January 17, 2014

Thoughts:

Many friends of mine who spent their entire childhood in the Western education system have read this book before blowing out the 13 candles on their birthday cakes. I however, were still in ESL at that time, so I’ve never even heard of this literature until a friend recommended it to me after learning about my dystopian craving.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t read it as a pre-teen, or maybe I’m used to the Hunger Games and Divergent sort of dystopic world, but I didn’t really enjoy this novel, not as much as I would have liked. The way the Giver was suddenly inspired into action didn’t feel real to me. Wasn’t he supposed to be the wisest? What about all those Givers who came before him? Didn’t they have ideas to release memories back and change the system? It’s unbelieveable to me that Jonas was the one to provoke a change of mind, a change of heart, and a change of action, simply by uttering a few words of teenage rebelliousness against the unfairness he came to see in his once-perfect world. How did all the other receivers that came before him never saw the injustice and cruelty of such a bland, peaceful world? And if the incident with Rosemary was the precedent that helped formulate the revolutionary idea, how could there not have been a Rosemary before? I just can’t get over how “special” and I don’t mean just that Jonas was the Receiver, but also that he was the one, had to be the one, to this world’s undoing. He just wasn’t unique enough for me to see him as so special. I’m not making any sense am I?

The final part with Jonas and baby Gabriel was written in unsatisfactory vagueness. There weren’t apt description to make to me feel their pain, hunger, isolation, desperation in that darkness, not enough that when they finally saw the light, it brought relinquishing relief. It just didn’t do it for me.

The wonderful parts was the world that Lowry created. I loved that she demonstrated how powerful, defining, and essential memories are. Not just individual memories, but memories of a collective, of the human race. I sympathize deeply with the idea that in order to create a peaceful, stable, and controlled world, the freedom to choose and to feel has to be subdued. That’s a powerfully dark message, and I loved it.

I also very much enjoyed the conversations between The Giver and Jonas. They were like mini-lessons on life and its myriad of beautiful and complex details packed into verbal format. The truth, and I don’t mean the absolute, universal, grand-arching truths, but the truths personal to each individual according to their memories and interpretations of it, that truth can and does set one free. Which is the ultimate symbolism I received as I watched Jonas journey out and finding the Elsewhere.

Just because I finished the book with a slight bitter taste in my mouth doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to the movie.

Favourite Quote:

Each night he gave memories to Gabriel: memories of boat rides and picnics in the sun; memories of soft rainfall against windowpanes; memories of dancing barefoot on a damp law.

“Gabe?”

The new child stirred slightly in his sleep. Jonas looked over at him.

“There could be love,” Jonas whispered.

Final Verdict: 3/5 gummy bears

Next TargetHow Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

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