Hey guys! Sorry I haven’t been around more often like I wanted to be. I got a big girl job and now I work all week and have less time for both reading and writing. I also just got back from vacation in California which was both nice and stressful thanks to unnecessary attitudes…I won’t bore you with the details, just know it was super dumb butt. Anyway, while on vacation i brought books with me (surprise, surprise), one of which was The Giver (Holy crap Lola, is it painfully obvious day?) and yes, I finished it.
So, we are gathered here today to hear my review for The Giver. This book is not new, to be sure. It came out the year after I was born and was another of those that apparently everyone but me was forced to read in school. The Eagle Scout and his brother both hate it, they find it preaching and the ending infuriates them. However Chow Mien, my sort of friend again (but definitely not best friend anymore, I tried it out and it didn’t feel right), says it’s one of her favorites. I received it as a present like two Christmases ago, if that let’s you know how huge my to read pile is, and I have finally gotten to it and I must say I’m rather disappointed.
The plot of the story is in this seemingly utopian society of sameness, no color, same clothes, same skin tone, same weather everyday, same routines, same vehicle (bikes), same everything, a boy named Jonas who loves the sameness is singled out to be different. He is chosen to be the Receiver of Memories, a job that is isolating, painful and believed to be the highest honor. Basically it turns out people in the community can’t see colors, have all their emotions dulled my these pills they take and don’t really have any choices and the Receiver of Memories deals with all the pain and joy of the past so everyone else doesn’t have to. After learning all this Jonas says to his predecessor, now the Giver of Memories (hence the title) the it isn’t fair and they should change things. The Giver tells him he’d been thinking so for years and together, towards the very end of the book they finally set a plan in motion to change the community.
The thing is, the book is short so there really shouldn’t be so much set up, but the majority of the book is just that. Also, and I can’t pin point why, but the characters did not touch me the way so many others had. I didn’t feel connected to them, I felt distanced. I was acutely aware that I was an outsider looking in and watching these things unfold, I never once felt right next to Jonas, the Giver, or any other characters in the story. There are these shocking revelations, but to be honest they weren’t shocking because I guessed them pretty early on. I found myself wondering if it would’ve been more shocking 23 years ago when dystopian futures weren’t such a big seller. Another part of the problem is it felt like a watered down, or safe version of a dystopian future. Like the author was too scared to push it further, or perhaps was so desperate to keep it in a certain age group she let go and brushed over some of the best and most horrifying moments. Perhaps part of the problem is when all the characters have a bland personality to prove a point you don’t care to know them. But for me the biggest problem is that the ending leaves much to be desired. I didn’t care enough about the characters to be desperate to know what had really happened to them, but being a curious person by nature I was left annoyed that I didn’t have clear answers. The possibilities were many and none of them seemed all that satisfying. I could’ve just picked a favorite, if I’d had a favorite possible ending, but they all left me with a feeling of time wasted, something I never want to feel reading a book.
I will say now, before I finish this off, that I know it’s a quartet and I have heard mixed reviews about those as well. Some say they help form a more clear answer for how the first book ends, and others say you never get the answers you want. I will probably break down and read the other three books, but for now, I’m not invested enough to bother. All in all I’m glad I finally read this book so many people have known and talked about, but being completely honest, I don’t get what the big deal is. It left very little impression on me and didn’t even manage to get the preachy aspect I heard about down with enough passion for me to be moved, even in a bad way, by it. If you still haven’t read it and find yourself curious, I would say go for it. It’s a small enough book that it won’t take up too much of your time, especially if you’re as fast a reader as I am. But this won’t be on the top of my recommend to a friend list any time soon.
Alright, that’s all for today. Have a great one, guys and as always thanks for reading.