The Giver by Lois Lowry

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

About the Book:
Author: Lois Lowry
Source: Bought
Publication Date: 1995
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Series: The Giver Quartet, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Dystopian, Young Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5
Until news of the movie adaptation made headlines, I really knew nothing about The Giver. It wasn’t something that ever leapt out as a book I should read even though many Goodreads friends I now see have read and recommend it. Deciding the film was something to rent, I made time to read what turned out to be a relatively short novel. It's a perfect world that Jonas has grown up in. Lives are lived equally without lying and to prevent jealously or feelings of love or memories of what the world once was. Jonas is about to become a 12. He’s reached an age where he has to take injections to quell the “stirrings” and he’s attending the ceremony to be told what factor he’ll be a part of. His friend Fiona loves caring for people and that’s what she is assigned. Jonas is skipped over at the ceremony only he soon finds out there is a reason for that: He’s been chosen for a very special assignment, he’s the new keeper of memories. Suddenly during his training, an entirely new world is opened to him. He no longer has to adhere to the same rules – and the memories (ones full of things he never saw) start to awaken Jonas to real living.

Little that I know about Lois’ books and this series specifically, what I understand of The Giver is that this was kind of the “original” dystopian novel. Those of you who are fans of this quartet of books can correct me if I’m wrong, but author notes leads me to believe this. Even a couple of weeks after reading this, I’m honestly not sure what to say about it. To be fair, I read a good portion of it on Thanksgiving Day when talk of meal planning was surrounding me and when that wasn’t a football game was playing on the television. All of which could have played a part in my not totally focusing on the story. With that being put out there, I’ll share some of my thoughts on this beloved novel.

I’m not sure what to say about this book honestly since I cannot seem to help the comparisons that come to mind when associating the word “dystopian” with the book. Right off the start it’s not hard to understand this is going to be more of the quiet sort of story without anything going “bang” or an arrow shooting through the air. It’s both a refreshing change and something of a challenge because I’ll admit all of the memory transference can (in places) bog the book down. That’s what the majority of the book is; Jonas remembering memories that aren’t. It's a world he and his fellow neighbors never knew. Their council believes that by depriving citizens of such things, there can never be events that wiped out so much of humanity. It’s certainly an interesting concept though not one that always works.

Honestly, for me, this is one story that works better as a movie. The book didn’t capture me in the same way the film does nor did it affect me the same. Where the film has a kind of wonderment and room for your imagination to go wild, the book felt stiff in comparison. Plus add in the ideology of it's rigid equality, and as a book, this one wasn't a favorite for doubly certain. Why then did I give the book 4 stars? Overall, I probably liked this the best of most the dystopian novels I've read (so far) plus just judging the movie off this book and I'm impressed by the cinematic story. That's probably not the best sense of rating, but there you have it friends. In my estimation, The Giver is that quiet, deep-thinking kind of story that you read on a dreary day when you want to be challenged. It's one I'd like to read again when I'm more focused and see if I come away with a different opinion because I do think my mind might change if I read it in a quieter environment. Jonas is a hero to admire, no question. I liked that he stood up for what he teachings revealed. No matter the cost.

Synopsis: Life in the community where Jonas lives is idyllic. Designated birthmothers produce newchildren, who are assigned to appropriate family units: one male, one female, to each. Citizens are assigned their partners and their jobs. No one thinks to ask questions. Everyone obeys. The community is a world without conflict, inequality, divorce, unemployment injustice...or choice.

Everyone is the same.

Except Jonas.

At the Ceremony of Twelve, the community's twelve-year-olds eagerly accept their predetermined Life Assignments. But Jonas is chosen for something special. He begins instruction in his life's work with a mysterious old man known only as The Giver. Gradually Jonas learns that power lies in feelings. But when his own power is put to the test—when he must try to save someone he loves—he may not be ready. Is it too soon? Or too late? - Goodreads


  1. Read it in grade 7. It was... okay, if I recall.

    1. This was my first read and yeah... I think I'd like it better a second time through since there were distractions. :)

  2. I read this in about a day and a half, if I recall correctly, back in August while on a road trip. I enjoyed it for it's lightness, like you describe, Rissi. Just the other day I watched the movie for this one and felt a shade disappointed by it, but I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on it. :-) Great post!

    1. I read it in about the same time frame too, Rosie (*waves*). It was a cute, easy kind of read and as we've said, I liked that. Aw, bummer! I'm sorry you didn't like the movie as much. If I'd been more focused on the book, I could have reacted the same, but as it stands, I REALLY enjoyed the film. Plus, the visual aspects were breathtaking. :)

  3. I really like this book, but like you,
    I didn't know what to think about it at first.

    I am hoping to read the last two books in the series soon.

    1. I would finish out the series too, Ella. It's just one of those "if I get to it" kinds of things. Hope you enjoy them if/when you read them - and I'll look forward to reviews if you do. :)

    2. Thanks Rissi!!!
      I probably won't read the last two books soon, because there are about fifeteen books on my tbr list ahead of them. Maybe this summer I will get around to it:)

    3. Good idea. I like to think I'd read some books during the summer that fall into that didn't-get-to TBR, and this series would be an excellent place to start. :)

  4. I love The Giver. It was the first dystopian book I ever read, and I still remember feeling completely shocked by some of the things that happened because I'd never read anything like it before. Now that I've read quite a bit dystopian, this one still holds up even though it's you said, it's a much quieter story.

    Last year I finally read the rest of the quartet and loved them all. I especially connected with Gathering Blue because the main character was involved in fiber arts, which of course I could relate to. But I think the last book, Son, is probably my favorite. It was a bit unusual and seems to get mixed reviews, but personally I loved it and thought it was a strangely perfect conclusion. So I definitely recommend continuing on with the series. :) All of the books are fairly short so it's not a big time commitment.

    P.S. It's ironic that you should post this today because I just got The Giver through Netflix and I'm planning on watching it tonight. :)

    1. I really did admire several things about this book. Partially because in my mind, it's probably one of the first of its genre and for that reason, it's kind of the "classic original." It was hard NOT to compare it to THG though since I did read that first. Overall, I did really like it though and would read it again just to see if thoughts differed. I suspect they will.

      As for the rest of the series... I am so glad you recommend reading them! I'll have to look them up now (I am going to the bookstore tomorrow *smile*) and possibly read them. I liked that this was shorter in length so it's nice to know the others follow suit. :)

      YAY! Cannot wait to know what you think of The Giver. I hope you like it - my review is supposed to be up sometime on Silver Petticoat, so I'm excited about that. :)

  5. I loved "The Giver". I couldn't put it down. But, I should probably note that this was one of the first "dystopian" novels that I had ever read. It was a new world to me! The story develops through the series, and quite frankly ends with perfection in the third novel. The fourth book "The Son" was probably my least favorite. I think too much time had lapsed between novels (for my taste).

    I could also be biased. I just love Lowery's writing style! "To Number The Stars" is one of my all time favorite books.

    Also, I still haven't watched the movie. I guess I need to rememdy that this weekend!! ;)

    1. Rereading this would probably be a good experience for me, Heather as I'm sure I'd like it better in a quieter environment. (I read most of it during a football game, then in-between the movie.) Knowing it was one of the first dystopian novels puts it in a new light, however since I'd read THG first, I kind of continued to compare it to that in terms of plot twists, etc. Glad the series is a good one! I wouldn't mind picking up more. :)

      I haven't read about any of Lois' other titles, but just the title: To Number the Stars sounds wonderful. :)

      Hope you enjoy the film if/when you see it. I thought it was a great adaptation.


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