Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review 14. The Giver

Book: The Giver
Series: The Giver Quartet
Author: Lois Lowry
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 179
Published: 1993

Summary: Jonas' 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.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ +

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” 

So, as you all should know by now, I adore this book. I read it earlier this year for school and it's stuck with me this whole time. And unless you live in a cave, you should have heard by now that the movie adaptation of this exquisite book came out!!! Top that off with extremely positive early reviews and the author's praise, you have one hell of a movie adaptation. So I figured I would write a kick ass review for this book to commemorate it's opening!

Let's start with the plot itself. This book has one of the most unique concepts I have ever seen. Imagine a world with no pain, no prejudice, no racism. That's what we have here. A world without color makes for no envy, no greed, no segregation. One pill is all it takes to strip a human being of all human emotion, making them almost robotic. Yes, the pill takes away all the hurt and pain, like the Chief Elder wants, but it also takes away good feelings. Which of course includes love and happiness. So the question of the day is really: Is it better to have both the good and bad feelings, or is it better to not have any? This book delves into the topic of human nature, as Jonas experiences things like war and wonders why we do what we do. Over time, as he receives more memories, he begins to see all colors and experience a wide range of emotion. Including love...

“I liked the feeling of love,' [Jonas] confessed. He glanced nervously at the speaker on the wall, reassuring himself that no one was listening. 'I wish we still had that,' he whispered."

Speaking of love, let's talk about how Lois Lowry incorporated the feeling of love in her book. So, one of the main reasons that "The Giver" is such a controversial book, is because of the pill that Jonas and the rest of the adults and teens have to take in order to suppress their, uh, "urges". They call it the "Stirrings", basically when Jonas has an interesting dream about his friend Fiona, he has to take the pill. But as Jonas receives more memories of love he stops taking the pill and realizes that he is attracted to his "gentle female friend", Fiona. But here's the thing, there's no relationship! As hard as I try and wish upon the blue star that something will happen, nothing ever does. They remain friends, strictly because Jonas knows in his heart that Fiona can never really love him unless he completes his mission. But doing so, breaks them apart forever. I'm sure in the movie they've already corrected that problem, since the trailer shows them locking lips several times. As much as I hate that they aren't together, I really think that "The Giver" is a breath of fresh air from some of our other teen romances, including Bella and Edward, and Katniss and Peeta. But let me remind you, before there was Tris and Four and all those other couples, there was Jonas and Fiona.

Speaking about other dystopian literature, I have to make my self clear. "The Giver" was published in 1993 and it has paved the way for a thousand other dystopian novels. And I must say, it is by far the most captivating and thought-provoking of the dystopians or shall I say "utopians". It's well written and it's unexpected. I mean, who would have thought that a ten-year-old would refer to a stuffed animal as her "comfort object"? It's just the little things that makes this book so special.

“Even trained for years as they all had been in precision of language, what words could you use which would give another the experience of sunshine?”

Let's move over to characters. First off, Jonas. He is where this book is at. As the narrator of the story, Jonas carries the weight of the plot. What I love about Jonas is the fact that he is such a pivotal character. At the beginning of the book he is literally a blank slate. Innocent, incorruptible, almost like a newborn child. But as time goes by and each memory is received, readers get to see the genuine reaction of how overwhelming all those feelings are for Jonas. I think he is an outstanding character solely for the purpose. I mean he is also a great friend to Asher and Fiona and an overall good guy, but his capacity to "see beyond" is what sets him apart from other in the community.

Now onto the titular character here, the Giver himself. I don't have much to say about him, quite honestly. I really enjoy the richness and complexity of the character they provided. I think the Giver is one of those characters who is bigger than life itself. They don't need much of an explanation. He provides wisdom and guidance to Jonas and acts like the father Jonas needs. He also is a pretty funny dude, and I give the nod to Jeff Bridges for carrying that into the movie. I love the whole backstory with Rosemary, the previous Receiver of Memory, because I think it adds depth to his already mysterious character.

“Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.” 

Look, I love "The Giver", there's not much more I can say! It's a classic story that I know will stick with me and I only hope that it will stick with all of you. I really should read the next books in the series cause you guys are probably sick of me talking about it so much!

I prescribe one dose of "The Giver" by Lois Lowry for anyone who is into dystopias, the meaning of life, AND ANY AVID READER!!!

Read it. Love it. Live it.

- stELla

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