Throwback Thursday: Review: ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry

Throwback Thursday: Review: ‘The Giver’ by Lois LowryThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver #1
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 1993-01-01
Format: Hardcover
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Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

So for starters, if you missed it in the book information above, this book was first published in 1993. Nineteen-ninety-three! I wasn’t even born then! If anything makes a good Throwback Thursday, it’s a book published over two decades ago.

Of course, it’s been in the news as of late because it has a movie adaptation coming out in August. But more on that later…:)

The Giver is definitely different from other YA Dystopias, probably because it was one of the first. Overall it has a noticeably slower pace and less action. And, setting it apart from most dystopias, the book’s narrator is 12-year old Jonas, versus the typical 16-year old girl so popular in dystopias.

While different doesn’t always mean better, in the case of The Giver, I embraced the diversity that it brought. While most other books in the genre have found success by following recent precedents, Lowry’s book goes about things differently but has its own appeal. Jonas’ point-of-view gave me a very clear understanding of his ‘community,’ one that was unclouded by superfluities and still innocent, unlike that of a usually jaded teenaged narrator. It gave the story a very straightforward and honest feeling.

But in all honesty, I did miss the action and fast pacing found in today’s dystopias. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lowry even suggests that, “If The Giver had been published this year, maybe no publisher would have wanted it because it’s…tame compared to the others.”

However, it’s not the action that shines in The Giver; it’s the questions the book brings up. Lowry’s novel made me question so many things I take for granted and examines things that I’ve never even given a second thought:

  • Without memories, can someone ever truly be ‘wise’? Or does wisdom come from learned experience?
  • Is our own community formed through free will, or do we also have ‘rules’ that deliberately structure our society?
  • Can people truly not deal with differences, or do they chose to surround themselves with ‘sameness’ because they fear diversity?

The novel also looks at love, emotions, human connection, and courage, among other things.

Now, if you’ve seen the trailer for the upcoming movie, the real question seems to be in concern to how closely (or not closely) the movie will follow the book. The trailer is below for your viewing pleasure, though BEWARE OF SPOILERS if you haven’t read the book:

It seems that Jonas is no longer 12 but maybe 16, making The Giver like so many other dystopias. So of course, he is given a love interest that doesn’t exist really exist in the book. The trailer gives away so many big ‘reveals’ from the book, so it becomes obvious that the ending will not be the same.

But at the same time, the trailer is very compelling and makes me want to see it. There is obviously more action, and the romance adds a new twist to the story. The acting looks to be superb, and the cinematography is eye-catching and dramatic. And it doesn’t hurt, of course, that Brenton Thwaites is rather easy on the eyes. 😉 I will probably go to see it in theaters, and hope it does not disappoint.

The Giver is different from the average dystopian, and really made me think.

Have you read and enjoyed The Giver? Were there things about it you didn’t quite like? What do you think about the movie trailer?


  • Anna says:

    The Giver is one of my absolute favorite books. I found its deeply philosophical and mentally stimulating themes to be refreshing. Books (like The Giver) that make me look at the world differently are why I read. The trailer looks fairly good, but, like most movie adaptations of books, I’m pretty sure the book itself will remain a better portrayal of it’s message and meaning.

  • Of course, they had to make the main character 16 so he could be a drool-worthy love interest! I get why movie studios think they need to do this, but it’s still disappointing.

    I read this so many years ago. I’m not sure if I read it when it first came out… though I kind of doubt it because I would’ve been struggling through assigned reading at that time (I didn’t do a lot of reading for enjoyment in high school). It was probably the first dystopian I read… and the only dystopian I read for years, until they became more popular recently. I do remember being creeped out by the society, but the book was written in a way that made me more thoughtful than freaked out.
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    • It’s a sad reality, but true. Still haven’t gotten a chance to see the movie yet, but I’m definitely going to go in wary when I do.

      I know a lot of people didn’t do pleasure reading in high school, either because of a lack of time or because assigned reading turned them off. I’m just glad that you and others have come back to it! 😀

      I so wish that this could’ve been the first dystopian I read! It’s such a pure dystopia, so it would’ve made for a good starting point (I’ve read a lot of dystopians, haha). And you’re right, the society does feel more though-provoking than anything else, which I think does set it apart from other dystopias. Like a good sci-fi novel, some of the best dystopian are more thoughtful than showy or terror-inducing. Reading this after so many others does make it seem a little too tame, but I can still appreciate it like a classic.

      Thanks for all your lovely comments! :))xx

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