The Giver by Lois Lowry
Published in 1993 by Delacorte Press
When I saw the trailer for The Giver, I knew I had to cave and finally read the book. I almost read it a few years ago, but when I saw the word “Utopian” used to describe it, I shied away. I cannot stand Utopia. But, after seeing the trailer, it reminded me of The Hunger Games, so I picked up a copy at the local used bookstore. I just finished it and immediately rewatched the trailer…you have been warned.
The Giver (the book) is about a twelve-year-old boy named Jonas who lives in a society that is very, well, blah. They have no colors, no feelings, basically no lives. They are told what to eat, whom to marry, what children to adopt, what job to have, etc. Practically all free will has been taken away. (Communism, anyone?) When Jonas turns twelve, he is assigned his job, but this job is different than the rest. His job is to be The Receiver, the one who holds every memory ever. But it’s more than just memories, it’s history. The people do not know their history, just the time in which they live. (Not that I couldn’t have gone without a few History classes, but no past at all?) Jonas is now to be given these memories by the outgoing Receiver, aka The Giver. But as Jonas receives more and more memories, he starts to envision a different world, a world in which everyone can make his or her own choice, have free will. In the end, Jonas has to choose: the world he lives in, or the world that could be?
Now comes the ranting. So, like I said, I watched the trailer right after finishing the book, and I’m already up in arms. First of all, Mr. Aussie (Brenton Thwaites) that is playing Jonas is a very attractive twenty-five-year-old. Obviously, movie Jonas is not twelve. And Meryl Streep’s character is in one scene in the book. One. Scene. But, of course, you can’t give Meryl just one scene. And The Giver is supposed to be a lot older than Jeff Bridges from how I read the book and the cover. (Got some Methuselah going on there.) And the romance? Book Jonah takes pills that stifle his hormones for a good chunk of the book, but even when that stops, he is TWELVE and barely even talks to Fiona, much less kiss her. But it is inevitable to have a budding romance with a very attractive twenty-five-year-old and a—wait for it—seventeen-year-old. Clearly, Hollywood’s goal is to take a book that is loved by many and make it into a movie that is nothing like the book. I think they want to make us mad, don’t you? I know, trust me, I know, that a movie version of a book cannot be exactly the same as the book and that they have to be approached as two separate works, but there’s a line. Having the same title and same character names doesn’t deserve a “based on the novel” blurb in the credits, okay? “Inspired by” is more like it. Will I see the movie? Eh, maybe so I can rant some more (all of this is just from the trailer!). The movie, as its own entity, does look good. Stupid Hollywood.
I think readers should be at least twelve to read this book since that is the age of the main character, but there is some heavy stuff to deal with toward the end, which might be a little much for some. It’s done in a way that is age appropriate, but it is still heavy. I think kids these days read books far above their level and parents don’t monitor what their children read, which saddens me. To be on the safe side, at least twelve, but more likely closer to fourteen.