Book | The Giver by Lois Lowry
I read this book in a matter of hours before the movie hits the big screen in the UK on the 19th September. The print is large and there's only little over 200 pages so it was relatively brief. The dystopian storyline has the possibility to be epic, hence why there are three more books in the quartet. In the first book, The Giver, you follow the story of Jonas, an Eleven waiting for his ceremony of Twelve in which his job is selected as a Receiver. The Receiver is a highly houred member of the society whom receives the memories of the past: joys such as snow, Christmas and sledding and painful memories such as war and starvation, in order to advise the Society.
It's certainly an intriguing concept as such memories - even animals - are unheard of in the Society of Sameness. You also find out that the Sameness lacks other fundamental features of everyday life such as colour and love, which I'm incredibly excited to learn how they portray them in the film and whether it will be black and white or just plain grey (see the second trailer below!).
In my opinion the first few pages are brilliant at explaining the dystopian society but then the book slows down - partially because it asks questions that only a twelve year old would - and only seems to get into the story once Jonas has firmly settles into his new assignment as Receiver. Then, just as it gets going, it all ends a little too quickly. I dislike the last two chapters for this as the book seems to crescendo and then lacks to produce enough of an epic ending, bar the last two are so pages which are brilliantly ambiguous and have prompted many children to write to the author demanding what happened and the consequent publication of a 'sequel' in the forth book of the quartet, The Son.
All in all I think it was a quick and fun YA read that can be read from childhood thanks to it's simply written perspective of Jonas, into adulthood and hold a different and darker meaning the older you are. If you're looking for a quick dystopian read that's on par with the likes of Divergent, The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games then this is definitely what you should be picking up next.
For those of you who haven't seen it, here's the trailer which already looks rather different from the first book at least in reference to their age, some of the character interactions with his friends Fiona and Asher and seemingly the ending too.
For those of you who haven't read the book, there are SPOILERS BELOW and possibly in the comments too. For those of you who have read the book, I have my own set of unanswered questions and theories that may lead into the rest of the series that I just can't wait to pick up. Please appreciate there may be unintentional spoilers for the rest of the series and certainly spoilers for the first book, and movie, The Giver. But this is just one of those books that leaves you with so many unanswered questions! Namely, the first:
1) Did Jonas and Gabe die?
In my opinion yes, which angered me a lot as I'd come to feel for these characters. Though the last few pages are tremendously well written, leaving you with an ambiguous ending I can't help thinking that both Jonas and especially Gabe would have been more satisfied with release as an ending rather that slowly starving to death and ultimately freezing in the snow wrapped in nothing but a memory. Though I know the sorry continues in the finale of the quartet, The Son so I would I love to see just how/if the characters survive. As much as it pains me to say it as I'm a sucker for happy endings, part of me wishes that Jonas an Gabe remain dead as their continued health relies on either the existence of another community (which could, in fact be worse) or some kooky Christmas town of old. Evidently, they might have lived in the trailer for the film.
2) Did the Giver know he was sending Jonas off to his death?
Surely with all those memories and all that knowledge, the Giver must have known that by sending Jonas off to the end of the world that he would surely die. After all how else would his memories be released into to population like Rosemary's? Was the Giver an evil dictator of a character who, sick of being placed in the side lines wanted to be in need by the Council again? He said that honor was not the same thing as power and now, assuming Jonas' memories have been released, he has both and is in control of the society. Will he really change it? There has to be some want of revenge for Rosemary's death but if the Giver knowing sent Jonas to die, how is he any better than the Society? How can he mourn the loss of one child yet do that to another?
3) What if Jonas had told the giver about Gabe and the memories?
Fair eyed children were few and far between but I feel if they could have used them to make the society better place by biding their time and using these children to convey memories to the general population. Or even train them in secret to release them into positions of power and change the society for the better. Which leads me to my final question...
4) What happens next for the Society?
I feel like this questions is likely to be answered in the next book but I'm dying to know if Jonas and Gabe's sacrifice made a difference. Did the Society really change? Was the Giver really a good character?
Who are the "Birthfather(s)"?
Can children - prior to the Stirrings - love?
How was the society created - genetic engineering, genocide?
Let me know your thoughts on the book in the comments below!