Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Genre:  Middle School Dystopian
The Giver Quartet, Book 1

Description (taken from Lois Lowry's website):
"It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened."

Thus opens this haunting novel in which a boy inhabits a seemingly ideal world: a world without conflict, poverty, unemployment, divorce, injustice, or inequality. It is a time in which family values are paramount, teenage rebellion is unheard of, and even good manners are a way of life.

December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve year old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man -the man called only the Giver -he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.

Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.

I wonder why this wasn't required reading when I was in grade school.  This book is kind of the beginnings of dystopian worlds that we tend to read and love nowadays.  Only, it's not complicated, it's short and simple, and it's very easy to understand.  I kind of see how ideas for books published in recent years pulled ideas from this book.

I can't really discuss the plot at all without giving things away.  Yes, it's slightly predictable, but that doesn't make it any less heart-wrenching.  In a world where everything is perfectly chosen for you, Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of the community.  He will replace the old Receiver who in turn becomes the Giver.  And we get to see how a perfect society still has injustice and inequality; it's just all shoved into the broom closet.

Go read this short novel.  It'll take you a couple of hours.  And while it lacks sophistication like the young adult dystopian novels we read nowadays, it still leaves you with questions.

Challenges:  Dystopia Reading Challenge

1 comment:

  1. I really loved this book when I read it, such a simple but brilliant story. I think we I probably have this book to thank for some of my other favourite dystopian novels.


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