Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Review - The Giver - Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry





In the "ideal" world into which Jonas was born, everybody has sensibly agreed that well-matched married couples will raise exactly two offspring, one boy and one girl. These children's adolescent sexual impulses will be stifled with specially prescribed drugs; at age 12 they will receive an appropriate career assignment, sensibly chosen by the community's Elders. This is a world in which the old live in group homes and are "released"--to great celebration--at the proper time; the few infants who do not develop according to schedule are also "released," but with no fanfare. Lowry's development of this civilization is so deft that her readers, like the community's citizens, will be easily seduced by the chimera of this ordered, pain-free society. Until the time that Jonah begins training for his job assignment--the rigorous and prestigious position of Receiver of Memory--he, too, is a complacent model citizen. But as his near-mystical training progresses, and he is weighed down and enriched with society's collective memories of a world as stimulating as it was flawed, Jonas grows increasingly aware of the hypocrisy that rules his world. With an eerie futuristic setting, Lowry is once again in top form--raising many questions while answering few, and unwinding a tale fit for the most adventurous readers.

***
The best thing about this book was the seemingly idilic world that was set up. Everything was so well thought out and considered and the whole thing was downright creepy. The thing that was the most amazing thing about the setting is that it takes you a good while to figure out exactly how clever it is and when I finally did the whole concept just blew my mind. I loved the fact that this book is completely original in its concept and I can see that it has obviously inspired many other authors writing in the same genre. From the start of the book you are thrust into a world which is seemingly perfect. People's needs are catered to fairly and everyone has their part to play in the world following a series of seemingly reasonable rules and routines. People are matched to their perfect job, partner and family. Everyone contributes and everyone is provided for all life long All the rules and routine seem perfectly reasonably as you start reading the book. Its only when you start to go through the book that you start to find out that things aren't quite what they seem and they start to appear a little sinister. The ideas about people being released (which aren't really addressed until the end fully) are very creepy and the whole notion. The whole world notions are not unraveled until Jonas is matched up to his job assignment and he becomes the receiver. Once this happens you meet the giver and the whole concept of them their purpose in this society is mindblowing. I won't go into loads of detail as I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it but the more you see of them and their separate world the more it dawns on you how much people are giving up to live in this utopian society. The final ending was very quick but again amazing. The only slightly negavtive things I found about this book was that it was little simplistic at times and in terms of literacy level more suited to younger teens whereas the ideas and theme within it are more suited to an older audience. I also was left wanting more, lots more, and was disappointed to see the sequel is more a companion than a sequel. I actually can't believe that I never heard about it before and would definately recommend anyone into into dystopian fiction hunts this out.

2 comments:

Jen Daiker said...

I'm a new follower and your book blog picture up top is amazing! That must have took a ton of time, but I love it!!!

Great review, I thoroughly enjoyed The Giver when I was in High School, I never realized it was one on the banned books list, that made me sad when I heard about it last month!

anjohnston said...

I'm surprised you've never read this novel before. I read it in middle school and then again in my YA lit college course. I liked it better the second time. I love books that leave me with an uneasy feeling in my chest. This one did. Thanks for the review!