An amazing book. I thought I’d read it already in the sixth grade and had hated it, but in fact I’d read The Wish Giver and was too scared to pick this book up because of the frightening old man on the cover. Now I wish I’d had the courage to read it because I wonder what sixth grader me would have thought.
The story is about a young boy named Jonas who lives in a very orderly world filled with numerous rules for living. As you would expect, the book emphasizes the importance of individuality and choice, but even though this was a bit obviously done (the “Giver” explicitly talks about these things), I was surprised to find that I wasn’t annoyed by this all. Actually, Lowry gives her dystopic world some redeeming qualities, which makes you understand why the characters would choose to live in such a way. Of course, the society holds a secret which ends up being pretty horrible, so Jonas can’t be happy, but still.
I also really loved the whole idea of the “Giver” which I feel like I can’t talk about without spoiling the book, but the “giving” becomes a method of showing Jonas the flaws in the world which turn out to be pretty surprising.
My biggest issue with the book was the ending. I’ve read many reviews saying that the end of the book is too quick, and I do agree that there are some pacing issues. But the thing that bothered me more was that I didn’t really understand what happened. Now in some ways, this isn’t a bad thing–you should be left thinking about a book once it’s done–but I kind of wished she had spelled things out just slightly more. (Am I allowed to say that? Or does that make me look dumb?)
Now I’m interested to read Gathering Blue, which, thankfully, does not have a scary old man on the cover. On a side note, Lowry’s other Newbery-award winning book, Number the Stars also has a cover that scared me off. What gives?
Disclaimer: I got this book from the library.