The Giver seems to be one of those books that I missed growing up and I honestly regret that I did! I was instantly sucked into the book and I had trouble putting it down, by far one of the best dystopian novels I’ve ever read. The story centers on the idea of memory being key to obtaining knowledge and control. It is a coming of age story for young Jonas as he is given the gift of memory, both good and bad, as his eyes are opened to the world around him.
Speaking of dystopia, the novel did the genre right. The community that Jonas lives in really is perfect – daily life is heavily monitored and structured. The social order of things is just accepted as the way things are and no one questions anything because nobody knows how, and that was perhaps the most terrifying thing of all. I felt a sense of dread for some of the characters in the novel who were completely blind to the awful things about to happen.
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
The world built in this novel is absolutely incredible and the main characters are well written. Asher was my favorite character even though he made me feel a little bit sad for him. A bright boy with a sense of humor who is always put down for making mistakes, for being different, and he adjusts his behavior in order to be accepted. For him, being pressured to change resulted in a loss of self, a loss of innocence and childhood, a loss that is very real in the world today for many children growing up.
I love that not everything is explained and that the ending is left rather ambiguous, not in terms of whether or not Jonas survives, but rather what happens to the community. I had read that whether or not Jonas survived at the end of the book was a question that had come up multiple times and it makes me wonder how folks interpreted it that way, or even why that of all things was the question that burned in their minds. That aside, The Giver has definitely made it’s way onto my favorites list.
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.