Review of Lois Lowry's "The Giver"

I picked up The Giver at a local used bookstore. It is a thrilling thing to buy a book on a whim and then discover an incredible story wrapped within. To know absolutely nothing about the author or the book, and then feel the full rush of a masterfully told tale.

I've felt this sensation before, many times (as I discover more and more authors whom I love to read), but each time it's the diving into the ocean on a hot summer day. It's fresh, and it's breathtaking.

My copy of The Giver is 180 pages, and the Newbery Medal on the front tells me it's a young adult award winner. A word of advice...never let the words "young adult novel" scare you away from a powerful story. After all, The Chronicles of Narnia are "young adult" and they're magnificent.

The Giver is a tightly told story from the perspective of an eleven year old boy named Jonas. The story is set in a far, indeterminably future where it's hinted that the Earth has been strategically altered by humankind. The goal: Sameness. Nearly every aspect of individuality has been erased from society in order to create a carefully predictable world free of conflict.

History has been erased from the minds of all humans...all but a select few.

There is one individual in each community who must bear the burden of the past. Of knowing what Earth was like before the sameness. And Jonas has been chosen.

As the reader follows Jonas in this carefully sterilized world, we come to several shocking moments that reveal just how much the elimination of freedom and individuality has cost humankind. Like all of man's personal attempts to create a "heaven on earth," too much of that which is precious must be thrown on the Utopian alter.

Lowry's characters are fully alive--even in this stringent world--and we ache for them to know the truth. Will they? You'll have to find out for yourself.

The Giver is a story that will not fade from my memory, ever.


logankstewart said...

I first read The Giver back in Middle or High School, and I still remember the story well. The impact it makes is phenomenal, and I fully intend to read it again some day.

Great review, Brandon.

Kat Heckenbach said...

I read The Giver when I was tutoring--about ten years ago--because some of my students were reading it for school. I was so struck by the story I went and bought a copy. I've read it again, a couple of times. It really is a resounding story and message. It's one my kids WILL read as part of our homeschooling.

KM Wilsher said...

Whew! I am intrigued! Love the review and I'll have to pick this up!
HOw is American Midnight coming? We get any hints? :)

Brandon said...

Hey Logan,
I think it would have been a book that I'd have liked in middle school. Lord of the Flies was my middle school hit.

Hi Kat,
I'm with you on that! Depth and wisdom is something I cherish in books.

American Midnight is now in the hands of the publisher and will be going to the editor. There are quite a few reviewers reading the story, and I'll be posting some of their comments when they are done. And there'll be much more as the months continue!!

Allie said...

I read The Giver in 12th grade; I was tutoring for a 5th grade teacher and she wanted my thoughts on it as well as she was deciding if it was right for her class. I loved it.

You didn't mention Gathering Blue - which is a sequel of sorts (same "world") and there is a third that I keep meaning to buy but keep forgetting to get. You really need to get Gathering Blue as well. This trilogy - and I can say this safely without having read the third book - are classics.

Brandon said...

Thanks for the heads up about the novel being book one in a trilogy...I had no idea!! I will look for those other two books.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :)

Allie said...

:) I figured you would want to know. Ironically when I first read Gathering Blue I had no idea it was part of the same world. I found out after I stopped at your blog earlier that the 3rd is The Messenger. I'm planning on ordering it very soon.

Another of Lois Lowry's books that you might want to read is Number the Stars - it also won the Newberry medal. While not fantasy/spec fic - it deals with the Holocaust; there are images that have stuck with me since I first read it in the 8th grade. I can't speak to her other works, but I'm glad I popped over to your blog from Amy's because I'm seriously curious about her other books now.

Brandon said...

Hi Allie :)
I read a little blurb about Number of the Stars at the back of The Giver. Sounds like a great story told by a great writer. I love all genres, not just sci-fi ;)

Gathering Blue and The Messenger are not on my watch list too.