After seeing all of the buzz over the new film ‘The Giver’ based on Lois Lowry’s novel, I had to read this text to make up my own mind about it. The following is my own opinion.
The novel is based in a dystopian ‘community’. Within this community all things are decided for the citizens. What they eat, do, and how they act is controlled. It follows the life of a young boy named Jonas (surnames don’t exist within the community). Jonas begins to see things and gets ‘selected’ for a job as the receiver of the entire world's memories from before they built the community to ‘protect’ people. Once Jonas becomes the receiver-in-training he begins to have ‘unsafe’ thoughts about people choosing their own lives. He shares a very special relationship with the soon to be ‘released’ Receiver. They share feelings and stories with each other. Through out the entire novel Jonas forms a special relationship with a young baby named Gabriel.
I read this book in three hours, a new personal record. I was very much enthralled by the novel and I couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t until a few days after I finished it that I could finally form any thoughts on the novel.
There was something awe inspiring about the nature of Jonas’ defiant personality, his desperate need for love from his family unit who don’t even understand what love is and his naďve look at the world he lives in. His naivety leaves the audience feeling both ashamed for his misunderstanding of his life and also proud of his blind devotion to his community and to giving them choice. The varied sections of the novel where Jonas experiences the ‘painful’ side of our history is tear jerking and reflects on contemporary society. The part about war was incredibly vivid and described in amazing detail.
As a whole the novel was good because it remained relevant. It didn’t become too corny in terms of pain and love etc, and it built special relationships between Jonas and other characters in the novel. His relationship with ‘the giver’ is based on father-son love and it is so open and raw, so much more real compared to the sterilized fake relationships within the community.
Jonas’ relationship with Gabriel, the baby his father is taking care of in the nurturing center is absolutely amazing. Gabriel is a symbol of real human behavior rather than the constricting behavior of the tamed children in the community, for example Jonas’ father can't get Gabriel to stop crying at night.
However even though I genuinely liked the book I still feel like something is missing. I didn’t feel like the book ended on the right note especially considering the sequel isn’t based on Jonas. I also felt as though the book was a bit rushed. I didn’t see enough character development in Jonas. I also felt a little bit jibbed because I didn’t see any relationship progression between Jonas and his life long friend (or something more) Fiona. The end of the novel left me baffled and asking way too many questions, but maybe that’s a good thing. The novel, though written in Jonas’ point of view is not open and Jonas as a character remains almost a mystery to the reader.
As an entire novel it left me feeling somewhat satisfied but not in deep thought as I had expected. Altogether I thought that Lowry did a wonderful job in capturing loving relationships and the essence of love even if it isn’t directed at family. But most importantly the novel left me with a warm feeling inside of me because it was incredibly engulfed in sentiment and the true fundamental core of the world we live in. I would recommend you give this book a chance, although simple it still gives a satisfactory feeling in terms of family, love and relationships. The crux of the novel is not focused on the dystopia but on the relationships built within this unreal world.
The truth is, this novel is based on one single thing; to be human. It is not a twisted, scary thriller like series with ups and downs and thrills and chills. This novel is based on what it is to feel, to be real, to touch another human.
Love is the deciding factor in this text. It isn't about being brave or courageous (although Jonas is a brave young man) it's just about the simplest feelings, the rawest emotions in the human soul.
The community elders could take away memory, they could take away desire and hate to stop war, envy and greed. But human resilience outshines that kind of sick containment of the human race.
Even though Lowry shows a destructive world, she shows it in a way where she proves that even though time may change, that people will kill, hate, lie they will forever be brought back together by the power to love.
And maybe that's why this novel is special in its own way, it doesn't try and copy other books in its wild adventures. It's such a simple book that we do not realise the underlying factors are meant to be simple. Love outweighs pain.