Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Thoughts on The Giver by Lois Lowry

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” 
- Lois Lowry, The Giver

Blurb from the back of the book;

"Life in the community where Jonas lives is idyllic. Designated birthmothers produce newchildren, who are assigned to appropriate family units; one male, one female, to each.  Citizens are assigned their partners and their jobs.  No one thinks to ask questions.  Everyone obeys.  The community is precisely choreographed world without conflict, inequality, divorce, unemployment, injustice... or choice.
Everyone is the same.
Except Jonas.
At the Ceremony of Twelve, the community's twelve year-olds eagerly accept their predetermined Life Assignments.  But Jonas is chosen for something special.  He begins instruction in his life's work with a mysterious old man known only as The Giver.  Gradually Jonas learns that power lies in feelings.  But when his own power is put to the test - when he must try to save someone he loves - he may not be ready.  Is it too soon?  Or too late?"

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A little while ago I read this book and it made quite an impression on me.  I found it incredible.   It was made into a motion picture and released earlier this year.  It's a young adult book written in 1993 but I've never heard about it until now.  Someone mentioned the movie being released and that it was based on the book.  I found the subject very intriguing and although watching the movie was very tempting, movies rarely do a good story any justice.  I had to read the book.

I found the novel very thought provoking; it had me question the present state and the future of our society.  It also made me appreciate all the things we take for granted each and every day.  We can feel emotions, we can see colours, we can bask in the sunshine.  How different our world would be without those things?  How would it feel to be born into a dystopian society where pain and suffering do not exist but neither do colours?

As strange as it sounds The Giver made me realize that in a way our society is slowly inching towards such a state.  No, I don't think we'll lose our colours any time soon but some elements of dystopia are very clearly present in our society and that's enough to make someone stop and think where are we heading. Large percentage of our population is already very detached from nature. People, especially in western world, live increasingly desensitised lives.  Actually, most of the time they don't live; they exist and that's a big difference. Both parents often work all days and sometimes nights to earn living while their children are raised by strangers.  They eat, sleep, work, watch TV, rinse and repeat.  They don't question the system they've been raised in and they don't teach their kids to question much either.  Children are increasingly being trained to grow up and make the living but not make life. Everyone accepts one ridiculous law after another and watch our rights and freedoms disappear one by one.  No one questions, everyone obeys.  Authority knows best.

All people should read this book, young or old.  If you're ready, it will shake you to the core and make you see the world in a totally new light.

Just recently I found out that this novel forms a loose quartet with three other books following The Giver: Gathering Blue (2000), Messenger (2004) and Son (2012).  Let me tell you how thrilled I was to discover that.  As soon as I can I'll be getting my hands on the Gathering Blue and once I'm done with it I'll share my thoughts with you of course.


2 comments:

  1. I read The Giver in my undergrad. Of all the dystopian novels I was assigned, it was the only one to use a "perfect" society instead of a post-apocalyptic/war corrupted society. I rather enjoyed that. I watched the film earlier this year just because my fiancé wanted to, and although I'll give them credit for representing the book incredibly well it just seemed pointless! We usually complain when books are changed too dramatically for film, but this was the complete opposite, it was so close to the novel that it just begged the question, why even bother? Other than experiencing it visually, really, you could just read the book. I've never felt that way about a film before lol.

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    1. You are so right. Sometimes I think that you should either read the book or watch the movie. Often times I find that the movie is just a shortened, rushed copy of the book and for that reason whenever there is something I think I'll really enjoy reading, I try to not watch the movie until after I read the book. But I'm always torn, lol. I would like to enjoy both. As for The Giver, I haven't seen the movie yet. Part of me is happy they didn't change much and part of me thinks, like you, what's the point? It would be nice to experience it visually though, but then goes the world I've already imagined... lol I guess I would like to have my cake and eat it too.

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