Series: The Giver #1
Published by Ember on 1/24/06
Genres: Middle Grade
Source: Paperback Swap
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Jonas's 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.
Interest in Book
This book has been talked about endlessly when dystopian fiction is discussed around the blogosphere. I had not heard of it until about a year ago, but for many it was required reading in middle school, or at least on the suggested reading list. It was a quick read and one I did not want to put down. As most dystopian societies start out, everything seems cheery and hunky dory in Jonas’ world. When the world starts to expand, however, the story becomes quite engrossing as the ugly truth about a perfect society is slowly realized by the protagonist.
As with most dystopian worlds, we are given rich detail and insight into the current society. At first, this society seems pretty ok. Families share their thoughts at the dinner table every night. What a concept! There is no poverty because everyone has a job. But wait. It’s assigned to you, based on talents shown during your first 11 years of life. There is no war or fear, no love or hate because simply, you have no choices and are not allowed to feel. Your life is planned for you. Your mate is assigned to you, as are two children per household. And you better hope that you show some skills during childhood, because being assigned as “Birthmother” gets you 3 years of baby-making and a lifetime of labor afterwards. That particular position has no honor, whatsoever, and that eerily mirrors our own society, in my opinion. There are only 50 children born per year, and they are named by the government. Certain names have been struck from the list due to past history that no one wants to relive. No one is perfect, so you are given 2 chances when you screw up. After your 3rd transgression, you are released from the community. Oh, and when those sexual “stirrings” start, you just take a pill to keep them under control because sex is prohibited.
That is Jonas’ world in a nutshell. No one has a damn clue to know any better, but Jonas is about to receive true knowledge. It’s the traditional formula for a dystopian book, and as with any other in the genre, learning the truth is always difficult. However, truth is power…
Jonas is 11 years young when the story starts out. At his 12th year ceremony, he is given the highest honor in the community. He shall be the next Receiver, the person that holds all of humanity’s memories. The Giver shall train and pass on the memories to Jonas, but Jonas soon realizes that his new position is one of loneliness and heartache.
Experiencing life though Jonas eyes was incredible. This is a child who has never heard music, does not differentiate colors, unfamiliar with smells and using his senses, in general. As he begins to experience random memories via The Giver, his life changes drastically. However, Jonas is not allowed to share any of this with anyone, and he starts to morph and mature as the stark reality of his world is thrust upon him.
The writing style wasn’t my favorite. The author’s use of colons and semicolons to weave thoughts together seemed a bit overused, but it did not detract from my love of the story. The ending is one that has received a lot of strong opinion. It will definitely leave you feeling a wide range of emotions, and for that, I am grateful. It is extremely thought-provoking and will stay with you for days. I immediately ordered the box set on Amazon. Two day shipping. Days before I move to another state. I really want to experience more of this world. Of course, it’s a month later and I still haven’t picked up the books, but they are on my All Series, All Summer reading list!
“They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.”
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