Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Giver - Lois Lowry

The Giver
Lois Lowry
Delacorte Books
Copyright: 2006

The product description:
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world.

When Jonas turns 12 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. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does Jonas begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
Believe it or not, I'd never read this Newberry Award-winning book before, but I read it yesterday and quite enjoyed the experience. For all that The Giver is a very short book  - I think it took me maybe two hours overall to read, it was also a very thought-provoking one. I picked up the book on the recommendation of one of my co-workers and I'm glad I did.

As the story starts out, everything seems more or less normal, with a few changes - everyone uses bicycles to get around, for example and everything is done in a very disciplined manner. But, it's a society where everyone is generally happy, even though, as we discover, they have no real choice in how they live their lives. It's only as the story progresses that we learn how they came to that point by giving things up. There is one person in the community who remembers how things were before - the Giver. Jonas, the main character of the story is chosen to become the next Giver, and so the rest of the book is spent going through his training, by which he and we learn what everyone has given up: True family, love, even the ability to see colour or hear music. On the other hand, they've also given up real pain, violence and poverty.

At times, The Giver isn't the easiest book to read, being rather sad in places, but it's also extremely thought-provoking I found. Although, I'm still not completely certain about the ending to the story. It felt rather unresolved to me. On the other hand, something I only just found out while writing this review is that there are more books set in the same world: Gathering Blue and The Messenger. There's a good chance that they might resolve things, at least a bit.

I'm definitely going to have to read some more of Lois Lowry's books. She's an effective writer, who I can't believe I missed out on until now. This is one of those books that even though it's written for teens, I think that anyone will like. The Giver certainly swept me away into it's pages.

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