3.5 out of 5 stars
I wanted to give myself something easy for the first classic of 2014 so I decided to finally read The Giver, which has been sitting on my shelf for several months now. I never read it when I was younger and didn't really know a lot about it until I started hearing about the movie coming out soon. I also didn't even know it had sequels/companion books so I'm going to try to get those from the library soon, because hello cliff hanger. :P
If you're like me and have never read it, here's the basic plot: way, way, way in the future there are small communities like Jonas' that have made life "perfect". In other words, super regulated and removing of all basic choices. When they hit the age of 12, each citizen is given their career. Jonas gets picked for an extra special one, The Receiver. The book spans about a year and a half to two years and tells all about Jonas' journey to realizing that his world maybe isn't perfect after all. And that's your spoiler-free review, so stop here if you still want to read it!
The book felt a little "flat" to me in some parts. It took me until roughly halfway thru to realize that they weren't seeing color or hearing music. I just thought they were overly polite & structured and that was about the only change. I enjoyed the "daily life" of the first half of the book. I laughed when little sister Lily described getting angry and her little fists. I teared up when the weaker twin was "Released". (And come on, who didn't see that immediately as a euphemism for "euthanize"??) Asher was good comedic relief, but I didn't feel the importance of him or Fiona that Lowry seemed to want to make them. Jonas was a decent young boy with little to no personality, until he met the Giver. (All this "giving and receiving" reminds me of that Friends episode lol.)
The Giver was a nice old guy who didn't want to make the same mistake as with his first replacement (Rosemary) again with his new, young Receiver so he starts out nice and slow with the memories. I loved his memory of Christmas, that was probably my favorite part. But somewhere along the way, he gets ornery and decides that maybe Jonas is right. Maybe the people do need these memories and choices. And all of a sudden, they're planning a mutiny. It just seemed very rushed and out of nowhere to me.
Of course they needed to care. It was the meaning of everything.
Questions that didn't get answered for me (mostly rhetorical, since I'm planning on reading the sequels):
1. How did the people stop seeing color? Is it in their water or food?
2. How is the climate controlled if there are no borders to other communities?
3. Why are all the Receivers born with those strange, light-colored eyes? Wouldn't that make it pretty obvious who the next in line is and they could start training earlier?
4. Is Rosemary actually dead? (Don't answer that one! :))
5. Did Jonas & Gabriel die at the end? (I'm going to say no, but that they were hallucinating with the sled and all.)
6. Is the Receiver/Giver's gift magic or science?