Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review - The Giver by Lois Lowry

by Lois Lowry

Paperback179 pages
Published January 24th 2006 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published April 26th 1993)

Premise: Ganked from Goodreads:
Jonas's 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.

I have really enjoyed the recent onslaught of Dystopians... there are so many good ones freshly published right now, and as I read reviews before choosing which to read next, I see reference after reference to The Giver. I have seen raving reviews hinting at reading and REreading The Giver, which means "must read" to me!!

I'm a little awed by the Award ( now I have something for my "Classic Challenge"!!) Maybe a LOT awed by a doubly-awarded author!!  But in a backwards twist, I compared The Giver to newer dystopians like Divergent, Pure, Delirium, Hunger Games. Which is more "upside down" than "backwards"!!

Comparison is never "fair". Realizing it's wrong, here are my thoughts, raw off the press:

The Giver is fast-paced. There aren’t any extra words. If anything, I wish there were more words. The story trips along so quickly. Jonas deals with his daily life, the yearly Celebration and then learning his new trade... fast. 
I couldn’t put it down. 

And it’s short, much too short. Ha!  It ended before I was ready. 

The writing makes this book fly... and then fall right out of the sky. It's as if it is cut off before it’s too beautiful. Am I being presumptuous?  I have issues with that - abruptness!

The Giver is amazing:  It earned it’s Newberry Award. Everyone should definitely read it – it’ll take such a short amount of time at 179 fast-paced pages. It adds depth to all the other wonderful Dystopians out there – the ones I’ve read and the ones I can’t wait to read.

Geez… I don’t really know what to say. This book was WITHOUT A DOUBT amazing. AMAZING. Unique. So well... begun... but I’m left frustrated!  There’s so much more that isn’t said. 

What about the Community? Did the plan work?! Did people get their memories restored? Was the Giver able to comfort them? Was it worth leaving everyone?! 

Is Jonas ultimately happy with his choice? Does he regret leaving? Does he consider returning after getting Gabe somewhere safe? Does he care about the Community to help others, or did he really just need to leave and now he’s satisfied?

Does Gabe grow healthy? Does he survive his initial sleeping issues and following starvation time?!  Is he ok?  Does a family take him in? 

What about that old Giver?  Why didn’t he volunteer to leave and dump all of HIS memories on everyone? Was he really being kind by helping Jonas leave instead? How much longer did he last with no help to share those memories?

Why do the memories hover over those particular people? Why don’t they stay with Jonas?! What’s so special about the community that they have their very own HUGE history of memories?  Do other communities have their own memories?  Am I supposed to assume that each person can “remember” their own memories as if they’re experiencing them NOW?  But they leave one person when they go to another, so that doesn’t make sense. The memories are a thing all to themselves.

If I read more books in this series, am I going to get any of these questions answered? I peaked ahead at reviews to the second and third books and they seem to indicate more questions asked and left hanging rather than answered. I’m frustrated with the amount of questions I got already.

It’s just not quite satisfying.

Inspiring, YES, but not satisfying. 

Cover Commentary:  I don’t like the (classic) cover (above). Sorry. After reading the book, the cover is beautiful and makes perfect sense with the thoughtful old man in black and white and the ripped sunlit forest breaking through – sense, yes, but the cover did not draw me to read this book. The cover maybe draws literacy teachers to require that this book be read… because it looks like it would be boring and hard to read and SURPRISE! It’s very fast and fun. 

I was emailing Dash's Language Arts Teacher at the Mid-School, and she made a not-so-nice hint about The Giver, so I asked her, "Don't all literacy teachers like this book?!"

A word from Dash's amazing Language Arts Teacher:
Lots of teachers like the book. I don't like books where young children are burdened with the load that adults should carry and dump on their kids - fiction or real life - so I put it in the same place as Ender's Game.  I do, however, like Hunger Games. The heroine, teenage Katniss, runs to be the champion as she takes the place of her 12 year old sister. Much stronger character, overall.
And that's why I like her!!  She has independent thoughts!!  GO Ms. McCarry!!!

The plot thickens...


I applied and was "chosen" to be a giver for World Book Night. (Woohoo!!!!)

My first choice of book to share with reluctant-reader-friends of my mid-schooler is Hunger Games, 'cause he liked it! (wow!)  But with the movie and the awesomeness of the book, it was a much-chosen... choice!  So I was informed that I'll probably get my second or third option, which... uh... I THINK I chose The Giver. 

So.... I am rating this book a 3.5, for "Worth the Time" which is so true, it's worth the time to read. Too bad it's not the 5-pointer I'd like to (bore) my reluctant readers with my enthusiasm (recounting of major scenes). *sigh*

If I do get The Giver, at least I know it's a fast read... I'll tell 'em "it's fast and furious"!  Which... it's not really furious unless you count fast bike-peddlin'.

Gift Addition

The Awesome Author:

Lois Lowry
Hi! I wish I could invite you into my kitchen for a cup of tea and we could chat. That's not possible. But please... join me here, at the website. It's the next best thing.
On her books from her bio:
My books have varied in content and style. Yet it seems that all of them deal, essentially, with the same general theme: the importance of human connections. A Summer to Die, my first book, was a highly fictionalized retelling of the early death of my sister, and of the effect of such a loss on a family. Number the Stars, set in a different culture and era, tells the same story: that of the role that we humans play in the lives of our fellow beings. 
The Giver - and the two books that follow it and make a trilogy (soon to be a quartet! I've just finished the fourth book!), Gathering Blue and Messenger - take place against the background of very different cultures and times. Though they are broader in scope than my earlier books, they nonetheless speak to the same concern: the vital need of people to be aware of their interdependence, not only with each other, but with the world and its environment.

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Get the book:  Kindle for $4.99