I just finished the Giver by Lois Lowry, and this is what I thought.
Jonas is 11 years old. He lives in a community where everyone is
indoctrinated with these intense rules. You talk about your pills, you don’t
lie, you don’t fall in love, you explain your feelings at dinner, you are
chosen for your job, you have your mate chosen for you, your children are
chosen for you. No one is different, everything is the same, and everyone is
happy, or at least content. Then one day, when the elevens become twelves, they
are given an occupation, and everyone but Jonas is called. Then he is told he
will be the Receiver of memory.
It’s sort of a staple of American middle schools, and I felt like it
read very much like a children’s book. It was really good, but I’m clearly not
in the demographic this is meant for. It’s very clearly for children. Which
doesn’t detract, I just wish I’d read it when I was like 12.
It’s a very interesting way to tell a story. Basically what happens is
that Jonas is made receiver of memory, because the people in the community
can’t bear the memories of before they implemented sameness, so the Receiver of
Memory carries that burden, he carries memories of winter, and wind, and
sunburn, and love and everything like that. He also carries memories of pain,
war, destruction, terror. He feels them as well, he can feel the pain. When
Jonas starts receiving the memories we also learn of things that they don’t
have in this community. Jonas starts seeing color, which no one else can see.
Jonas learns about love, which no one in the community understands. He learns
about sunburns and grandparents, and he doesn’t understand them right away, but
he starts to understand, and it’s really interesting. With each new memory you
figure out that that is something they don’t have in this world. And it’s so
Jonas also learns that in the past they have choice, which he thinks is
interesting, and very dangerous. Because, he asks: what happens if you choose
wrong? If you’re allowed to fall in love you could choose the incorrect mate
and then that would be awful. They could choose the wrong job, and it would
give them emotions they can’t handle. I thought that was really fascinating.
It was really weird to see how they dealt with death. And that way is,
basically, they don’t. They have this concept of release to Elsewhere. And I
sat there for so long going: they’re dying, you idiot. Release happens to the
old, to babies who don’t conform, and to people who have three strikes, they’ve
been brought in front of the justice three times and haven’t gotten their shit
together. And no one ever questions it. Jonas doesn’t question it until he is
shown a release in a video. Release was very fascinating to me. I’m odd.
I also really loved the ending. It’s a bit open ended. I always like
that, so I liked the end. It’s always fascinating to me when it’s not like,
they lived happily ever after. The choices Jonas made have some pretty
spectacular consequences, and they’re not all explored, and I’m curious. I’m
not sure if they explore them in the rest of the series. So I might never know
what happens with Jonas and his Community.
I liked it, I’m not in the demographic, like I mentioned, so it didn’t
completely wow me. It is however impressively creepy and sort of serious
dystopia for a children’s book. The concept is really impressive. So I liked
it. It was cool.