Friday, 4 April 2014

The Giver - Lois Lowry (1993)

5 stars

It took a long while for me to buy this book because the synopsis didn't really sound like much but seeing the trailer for the movie was enough for me to finally read it, and when I finally decided to get it I read it in two days.

This book was so much shorter than all the other dystopian novels I've read, it was only 180 pages, but it just showed me that sometimes all the other detail in the dystopian novels these days (*cough* love triangles *cough*) is just so uneccessary as I enjoyed it a lot more than some other more recent ones I've read. It's told from the perspective of Jonas which I really enjoy, but it does get a bit annoying when he can't see the outcome of his decision so I don't know if it worked out well or not, so I'm excited to see whether the movie will expand on what happened without him. The concept was this book was so simple but so thought provoking, who are we without memories and how do they shape us? It was really interesting reading about how important feelings were to them when they didn't really know what they were. My favourite character in this book is Jonas, it's rare that the main character in a novel is my favourite usually due to a combination of seeing all their flaws and enjoying the traits of other secondary characters more, but in this book I just agreed with him so much and just really liked him as a character and a narrator. I would recommend this book to anyone that has never read a dystopian novel and wants to see what they're like, or any fans of dystopian fiction and the concept of memories and how they shape us.

For anyone interested, here is the trailer for the movie coming out later this year:

Jonas lives in a society where there are fifty new children born every year and each december they go up an age group. When they turn 12 they are given their assignments for how they will contribute to society and Jonas gets the job known as the "Reciever of Memory" of which there is only ever one at a time and it is a position of the highest honour. When he meets the previous Reciever of Memory, who nicknames himself "The Giver" he learns that he must have all the memories that the giver has of human history. He slowly learns about love, war, colours and starvation among many other things through experiencing the memories that the giver transfers to him. They soon decide that their society needs to know and understand these things so they make a plan for Jonas to go missing and assumed to be dead while he travels as far away as possible so his memories will be released into the city. The plan would have worked however Jonas learns that the baby that his family has been looking after is to be "released" which Jonas learns means they will be killed because he can't sleep through the night. Jonas then takes Gabriel, the baby, in the middle of the night and leaves on his bicycle with only the food he could gather and a blanket for Gabe. He bikes far enough that the memories mostly leave him, but he eventually runs out of food and the temperature gets so cold he can't make it much further. He manages to transmit a memory of sunshine to himself and Gabe to warm them up and that gives him enough strength to get to the top of the hill he'd been climbing to find a sled on the top which he slides down on into a warm welcoming house, but the story is unclear as to whether that actually happened or he was merely recalling those memories as he and Gabe lay dying.

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