Greetings, I’m the Literature Critic. I read it so you don’t have to! While we all might look at the world today and think that it can be unfair and overly-flawed, looking at anything in the media based around “dystopias” can make one immediately thankful to be in the poor economy-suffering world than to be in what failed utopia the media (books, television shows, movies, and video games) presents us with. Out of all the types of entertainment, I find the world of literature to be a perfect place to find these novels. The one that I’m going to talk about today is The Giver, by Lois Lowry. Being the first book I had to read in Accelerated Language Arts in 8th grade, I didn’t know what to think of it. But as our class read through this story, I was already hooked. And after finishing it, well, I’d have to say that The Giver is one of my favorite books.
The story surrounds a boy named Jonas, who lives in a small, isolated community in “who gives a heck” land (We never learn where this place is situated). At first, the community sounds simple and normal enough, but you only have a couple of pages to think that thought, because we quickly learn that this community basically serves to give people hopeful, great lives without making wrong decisions that could be dangerous, if that means making everything as disturbingly eerie, formal, limited and simple as the nuclear test town from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. As the community’s occupants grow older, they start getting more and more privileges, such as the permission to use bikes-the only form of transportation in this place- and eventually jobs and to start a family. Jonas goes to a special ceremony that awards each child with a job; there, he gets the special job of getting to be the Receiver of Memory. He works with the Giver, a wise, elderly man who has the ability to transfer memories from the past (things that were omitted when the community was built) such as snow, and more family bonding (the families in the community are assigned to one another randomly).
I won’t spoil the rest of the book, but it does get progressively more “action-packed”, as some people call it, as the story continues. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book- from beginning to end. The characters are developed well and could help you develop love-hate relationships with them. The setting is creative and has a touch of eeriness that makes it stand out from other dystopian novels. My favorite character is the Giver- he’s sort of like the nearest-possible human Dumbledore that you can find in this book; he has no magic wand to make him special- the Giver just wields the unique ability to transfer memories of the past to others… in a creepy way, by touching Jonas in his back, but it works perfectly. He also has this wise personality- he seems to have the knowledge of everything and is especially father-like to Jonas, for Jonas’s family at the community is monotone and strict. Jonas himself is also nice- he could pretty much be the reader- he or she most likely completely disagrees with the community, and Jonas is kind of along that path too. The only problem I found was that there were two characters- friends of Jonas by the names of Asher and Fiona- were featured rather prominently in the book, but weren’t really interesting. They just basically were benchmarks for leading us to learn about various things about this community; Asher mostly is surrounded by bad experiences at school, and Fiona is introduced as a love interest for Jonas, yet for the most part, we just learn about how people at the community take pills to reduce any sexual thoughts.
Still, I loved this book. It really is one of my favorites and there are good reasons- the characters are great (with two exceptions), the setting is executed perfectly, and there is great action and sad moments. I would highly recommend this book. It simply is just amazing and one of the best out there. I’m the Literature Critic. I read it so you don’t have to!