Author: Lois Lowry
Number of Pages: 240 (Paperback)
Published: Originally published in 1993, Movie tie-in edition published July 28th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre:Young Adult, Dystopian
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. – from Goodreads.
My Rating: ★★★
I quite liked the central idea of this story – that the Community lives in Sameness; everything is controlled and so extremes of anything don’t occur.
A world with no war, no fear, no pain? On the surface it all sounds quite acceptable.
It’s only when Jonas is selected to become the new Receiver (the keeper of memories going back ages and ages and ages) that the reality of what this means becomes apparent.
It is gradually revealed that these people who live such uniform lives know nothing of the simple pleasures of everyday life. They know nothing of music, or colours, or sunlight, or snow, or sailing on open water. They also remain oblivious to any real emotion, such as genuine happiness or love, because everything is controlled, down to the spouse they are given and the children they receive. It makes you question in some senses whether this is living at all, or simply existing.
There is a sense that opening Jonas up to such wisdom as all the memories that ever were will have great consequences, and things take a darker turn as the truth about life within the Community, such as details of the ceremony of Release and the reality of his loving, doting father (some of his actions were quite chilling), leave the young man with a great choice to make, the consequences of which will affect not just him, but potentially everyone within the Community.
I think there’s a certain distance from the characters, so you don’t feel that you know them that well, but when you consider their environment and the manner in which their lives are governed, this is understandable, and the same applies to the sparse setting.
I pictured a fairly bland, greyish world of a uniform structure, which is possibly what was intended, again fitting in with the idea of Sameness.
It is only later that all the possibilities for a ‘real’ world become clear to Jonas, shown as he develops awareness of colour and sounds such as music, and experiences real emotions which drive him to make an almost impossible decision.
I liked the ending, and the fact that it’s open to interpretation. I guess it can be interpreted in a number of different ways, but overall I found it quite hopeful.