“The Giver” was probably one of the first dystopian novels that I had ever read, probably before I ever knew it was considered a dystopian work. It was introduced to me by my fifth grade English teacher, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until the following year. I always remember the picture of the elder man on the cover, because it gives an apt representation of who “The Giver” was in my mind as portrayed in the story. And what a story it was.
The story’s told from the perspective of 12-year old Jonas, who resides within a world that’s seems perfect at first glance. Jonas thinks that he’ll have to undertake the usual assignments designated for boys his age, but his world’s shaken when he’s chosen to be the next “Receiver”, and undergoes training with the “Giver” to take on the memories of pain and pleasure in his village.
But with Jonas’s training, he realizes that the world isn’t as perfect as it seems, and he’s in for a rude wake up call with the things that “the Giver” has to teach him. It will set the course of his life in a much different turn, and lead him into discovering that which lies beyond the life and conditions he knows.
This was a wonderful story, that I think Lois Lowry tells at a steady, absorbing pace. The world is beautifully detailed, easy to understand, and fluid in describing Jonas’ experiences within it. It is very much a children’s story, and while I think the story could’ve been built a bit more complex in its expansions to an extent, I thought it was well worth the read for exposing the contradictions between the world Jonas thought he knew, and the one that he learns truly exists, especially considering the relationships with the people around him. I remember being surprised about the twin “Released” into the world, as well as the ending of the novel. I’m definitely interested in seeing how Lowry develops the world created in this novel with the sequels, including the last book in the quartet which is set to be released this year (2012).
Overall score: 4/5