The Giver  - Lois Lowry

I'm uncertain how I feel about The Giver, but given the huge popularity as well as "classic"-ness of this book, I can't be certain that I'm on the same page.  It always worries me to find that a lot of people loved a certain book, but when I finally read it, I'm questioning my ability to see why the book is so popular.


Do I just NOT understand it like everyone else does?  Is there something I've missed, maybe?


There's no doubt that I enjoyed reading The Giver; there was an immensely hungry curiosity I felt while reading the book.  Throughout, I had a need to know what was going to happen on every aspect, be it the story, the characters, or even Jonas, himself.  I found myself more and more curious about the story's development and I started asking questions about the society, the community, the world, the people...


Mainly, I wanted to know how the world came about to be the way it is in The Giver.  I mean, there's a definitive "reason", but what propelled that need to force a community where everything is dictated by a structurally organized lifestyle that never deviates, built for the maximum sake of survival, to have to exist?  What will continue to happen?  Because no matter how soundproof a society's structure, there will always be a flaw somewhere that will eventually dictate the collapse of everything the community has stood for for hundreds and hundreds of years.  

Such as we end up seeing in the end when Jonas runs away and The Giver is certain that the memories will force things to change in the community.

(show spoiler)


It's an interesting concept, the ideas within the dystopian world of The Giver.  However, I'm not sure I'm appreciating or comprehending The Giver on more than a simple, "Did I enjoy this book and what does it do for me?" level.  Like I'd mentioned before, I'm done with deep analysis and insightful thinking.


So, to me, while The Giver was a thoroughly well-written and enjoyable book, it didn't slip my notice that there is still so much missing from the story itself, especially after the fairly abrupt ending given to us.  I won't go into too much detail, even if I'll try to explain my conflicts in a way that doesn't spoil too much of the ending for others who haven't read The Giver.


Nonetheless, I should probably place a spoiler tag somewhere in here for the next few paragraphs.



Despite the face that this book has been circulating for a long time now, I'm sure there are still people who haven't read it.  I mean, I've had this thing on my reading list since I was in middle school and finally picked it up to fulfill a Reading Challenge priority for this year.  I'm not saying that I would have never read it, I'm just saying that it wasn't ever my first choice simply because my mood dictates what I read and my recent mood has taken me in different directions.


So, while I don't like giving away conclusions and surprises, I'm going to label the next few paragraphs with a spoiler tag, because I will inevitably give away the exact way that the book ends.







The ending is what really earned the book a 3.5 star rating rather than a anything 4 star or higher (which was what I'd been sitting on since I started reading the book).  It dropped because things turned out... giving me conflicting reactions.  I liked a lot about the book until the abrupt ending.  There seems to be no sense of finality that I can see, and because of that, I'm not even sure what the meaning of the story really entailed.


Does the second book pick up right after this first one?  But it's got a whole new summary with a whole new community and a whole new main character to follow.  It feels like it's a new and different story, separate from The Giver's current timeframe.


Mainly, I'm not certain I understand the meaning behind the conclusion's abruptness.  Why introduce such a complex idea of using "Sameness" as a means for survival, then bringing on the idea that this is not the right way to truly live, then having Jonas break away and try to ruin the society... and then just end off the way it did?  Jonas ends up on a hill with the baby, Gabriel, only to be sledding towards a destination that may or may not even exist.


The society was created to keep people numb from pain and over-excitement.  It was built as a means to survive.  The things that happen to maintain this Sameness, of course, feels completely wrong to us as readers who live in a life of freedom of choice (to be able to feel what you want to feel and do what you want to do and know the joys of happiness and love as well as to feel the extremes of pain and sadness).


But Jonas's running away from the community only seemed to enforce all the reasons why the Sameness was put into place to begin with.  He went through the sufferings of hunger, pain, desolation and hopelessness, just to be able to feel the wonderment of freedom.  And then the ending doesn't even tell use whether or not he made it to that "Elsewhere" he's hoping to find where Sameness doesn't exist and he can truly live a fulfilling life.


Maybe it's there and maybe it's not.  We don't know.  So we don't know whether he should have just stayed in his community... or if he made the right choice by leaving.


What kind of message is that? 

(show spoiler)




I guess I'm mostly concerned about the abrupt ending.  You don't know what happened and why and whether or not the progress of the story meant anything at all.  But otherwise, I will admit that I enjoyed the majority of what I read in The Giver.  So I'm not really all that disappointed since I wasn't really sure what I was expecting anyway.




This book was read as part of my 2014 TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader.




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