Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Giver

Because the movie came out a few months ago, I figured it was time that I re-read The Giver, since I generally like to read the book before I see the movie, and I haven't read this particular book since I was in 5th grade. I remembered liking it then, so I figured that much probably hasn't changed since I read it all those years ago.

The Giver follows the story of Jonas, who lives in an apparently perfect Community. Everything is assigned to its citizens, there are no conflicts, and if there are, they are taken care of quickly. At the age of 12, residents are assigned their career. On Jonas's 12th birthday, he is assigned the role of The Giver, who holds all the memories of the past. Through The Giver, Jonas will learn the truth about the society he lives in.

In 5th grade, my teacher read this book out loud to us, and I remember the whole class being appalled at the end of the book. It's an open ending, one that 5th graders don't respond well to. However, now that I'm older, I've come to appreciate open endings, because it represents life. Life doesn't end perfectly, so why should the stories that we read? This is why I appreciated the ending of the book, because it leaves it up to the reader. What really happened to Jonas? What will happen to the Community he left? These questions aren't answered for us, we must answer them for ourselves.

Other than the ending, The Giver is a short read, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. I think it can be considered one of the first young adult dystopian novels, but don't quote me on that. Jonas was very well characterized throughout the novel, I sympathized with him and wanted him to make it. I also thought that the society was very well constructed, and honestly, one that I could see happening to our own society. Jonas's Community is very controlling, and with all of the restrictions being placed in our own society, this makes Jonas's present a very real future for us. I think that's the thing that keeps people reading dystopian novels. Yes, the state of our future is scary, but we read these stories to know that somehow, we can make it out. That somehow, we'd survive if any of these things happen to us, because the characters in the stories we read did. These stories give us hope.

Overall, The Giver is a fast-paced, quick read, one that would supplement a busy semester perfectly. If you're looking for something to read for enjoyment, I would definitely recommend this book. Next, I'll likely be reading something for class, I think The Hunger Games is next? Perfect timing, with the movie coming out in a month. :) Until next time, happy reading!

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