12 June 2014

The Giver by Lois Lowry

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.
It wasn't what I was expecting, but I can see the brilliant threads of genius that so many of today's dystopian writers have fastened onto and expanded on.  Short, brilliant, remarkable.  A reminder that even small things like color are exceptionally important.

It was almost as if I were reading the "original" of something, as if Lois Lowry single handedly crafted the template for young adult dystopian literature.  The Giver featured an overly controlling, seemingly perfect world without proper emotions or color, and fields of work are chosen for you, as well as the person you would marry.  These are aspects that many of today's writers have taken and toyed with, trying to pick apart and decipher.  It was amazing to see what I now consider to be the "original" young adult dystopian.

I was a bit dissatisfied with its length, though.  I have become so conditioned to three hundred plus page novels, that it was a touch startling to see a story begin and end all within a hundred and eighty pages.  For this reason, I thought things could have been greatly expanded on.  (Really, though, that's what today's dystopian has done: expanded on the bare-bones idea laid down by Lois Lowry.)

I didn't connect with it on a visceral level.  It had the kind of chaotic, ethereal style that I associate with older books and while I liked the main character, Jonas, I didn't totally connect with his story.  I saw it, and appreciated it, from the point of view that this was the book that most likely inspired today's dystopian writers.  So while I didn't enjoy it enough to be giddy and excited over it, I appreciated the template it was building.

Book Info
  • pages - mass market paperback, 179
  • published - 1993
  • publisher - Ember
  • genre - dystopian
  • received via - Half Price Books
  • rating - 4/5
  • series - The Giver Quartet
    • The Giver
    • Gathering Blue
    • Messenger
    • Son