an old man staring into the distance, with a Newbery medal under the title

Book Review: The Giver, a Quick, Thinking Read

If you’re ever needing a quick but thought-provoking read, check out The Giver by Lois Lowry. You know those times when you’ve got maybe five minutes between picking one kid up from space camp and dropping another off at a friend’s house, or ten minutes after work, before you’ve got to fix dinner and/or clean the house, but you’re not in the mood for some silly beach romance? The Giver is what you should read.

What Is The Giver About?

From GoodReads:

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

Printed in 1993, this was the original dystopian novel. It came before Divergent, Matched, and Hunger Games, any of those. It’s fascinating to me that the central premise of this book, and of many others that have followed it in this sub-genre of science fiction, is that society has had to resort to strictly-regimented uniformity and almost-total if not complete separation from the freedom and excesses of the past. It’s like these authors are trying to tell us that there is only one way that the American love of freedom without regard to its attendant responsibility can end up–in ruins–and that, if we survive that ruin, we’ll have no choice but to give up our freedom and our memories of the past if we want to have any hope of surviving as a race. Maybe that’s extreme. What do you think?

Who Will Like The Giver, And Why?

Despite that heaviness, this book is meant for a middle-grade audience: kids between the ages of 8 and 12. Its main character was only 12, and the plot and settings are laid out only as a 12-year-old would describe them.  While there is some hinting at mature content, such as when Jonas, the main character, discovers that some people are purposely “released” (i.e., poisoned and dumped in the trash) if they’re not wanted or considered necessary by The Community (e.g. if they’re an identitical twin or aberrant in some way), there is no swearing, sex, or violence. As such, I would recommend it for middle-grade readers. I would also highly recommend it to those of you who liked the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, or Divergent by Veronica Roth, keeping in mind that, as adults, you’ll probably thirst for more detail. If that’s the case, just read the book’s sequels because they flesh things out nicely.

What’s The Deal?

You can get a good-condition used paperback from Thriftbooks.com for $3.79. That’s 50% off the original price! And the movie (HD version) is only $9.99 on Amazon. This is one of those classic books that should be in everbody’s libraries.