Fortunately, we have little but praise for The Giver. This book is one of the few books that I've seen in the dystopian genre that aren't just thrillers (I'm looking right at you, Divergent), but that are actually thought provoking literature. I have happily reread The Giver.
So, here's a quick summary of the book's premise courtesy of Amazon:
"The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son."
First, let's look at what Lowry got right, then we'll look at some of the issues that I have with this book.
No... what is the word? Oh yes, emotion. What an archaic word.
Welcome to the Community, the home of Jonas.
Welcome to the world of The Giver.
2. The characters: I'll start with the protagonist. Jonas is a fairly carefree eleven year old, who is about to turn twelve. (In the movie he, as well as all the others his age in the book, are 16) He's never had a true worry in his life. I won't spoil what changes all of that for him, but his world gets turned upside-down in a matter of days.
His mentor, the Giver, is haunted by his past, and the secret knowledge about the community's dark present that only he has. But when his old wounds are exposed, both of their lives change forever.
You'll have to discover the details for yourself. ;)
But there is some objectionable content in this book, which is unfortunate for younger readers, as we wouldn't recommend it.
“Didn't life consist of the things you did each day?”
Jonas: “My instructors in science and technology have taught us about how the brain works. It's full of electrical impulses. It's like a computer. If you stimulate one part of the brain with an electrode, it..."
The Giver: "They know nothing.”
And finally, a snippet from one of the most memorable (sad, that is) scenes in the book:
"'Do you love me?'
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a little chuckle. 'Jonas. You, of all people. Precision of language, please!'"
Yes, I know, oftentimes those books are rubbish. This is a rare exception.
This book deals with some concepts that are pretty difficult to grasp or swallow. It's better for younger children to wait on this one.
Can I give a higher rating?
CONTENT (1-10, where 10 is the cleanest, and 1 is the worst):
There is a very brief, but painful war scene, and death is depicted once in frightfully non-violent, sterile terms. Infanticide occurs, which is probably the most disturbing section of the book by far, albeit eye opening. In addition to that, there are ceremonies called the 'releasing'. It's assisted suicide. It can, at times throughout the book, be very disturbing.
Jonas has a pretty awkward dream. I won't scar you with details. Fortunately, it's only about a page, and it's not very explicit. But that's another reason that I'd reserve this for older audiences.