Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Review: The Giver (The Giver Quartet, #1) by Lois Lowry

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BOOK review
Started on: 16.July.2014
Finished on: 19.July.2014

Title : The Giver (The Giver Quartet, #1)
Author : Lois Lowry
Publisher : Laurel-Leaf
Pages : 179 Pages
Year of Publication : 2002
Price : $ 9.39 (www.bookdepository.com/)

Rating: 5/5
Movie trailer at the end of this post.
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"With the chant, Jonas knew, the community was accepting him and his new role, giving him life, the way they had given it to the newchild Caleb. His heart swelled with gratitude and pride.
But at the same time he was filled with fear. He did not know what his selection meant. He did not know what he was to become.
Or what would become of him."
In the community in which Jonas live, everything is in perfect order and everyone had equally perfect lives. For children, each year they receive different attires to show their growth: comfort objects, jackets with buttons and pockets at the front to show independence, and bicycle. When people have grown into adults, they have to apply for a spouse and have to wait until the Elders found the perfect match and made them into a family unit. They also have to apply to be able to receive a child, and they can only receive a son and a daughter to complete a perfect family unit. The most important milestone in this community is when a person become a Twelve. It is when the Elders decided what a person is going to do for the rest of his/her life, receiving their Assignment. And Jonas, who's going to be a Twelve, felt apprehensive about it.

"After Twelve, age isn't important. Most of us even lose track of how old we are as time passes, though the information is in the Hall of Open Records, and we could go and look it up if we wanted to. What's important is the preparation for adult life, and the training you'll receive in your Assignment."
Jonas's father was assigned as a Nurturer, who takes care of the newchild in the community; while his mother works at the Department of Justice. His father was always very fond of children since he was young, and so his Assignment as a Nurturer was expected. However, it wasn't the same for Jonas; he doesn't feel attracted to a certain type of work - which made him feel uneasy about the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve when he'll be receiving his assignment.

On the day of Ceremony of Twelve, every twelve-year-old will be called in order as they receive their Assignment. But to everyone's surprise, Jonas was skipped and was assigned last. It was because he's assigned to something rare. Jonas was chosen as Receiver of Memory, and he will become the successor of the person who's been a Receiver for a very long time. The last selection of the Receiver happened 10 years ago, but failed and caused terrible discomfort to the community. Jonas felt weary about his Assignment, and terribly curious of what made the previous Receiver failed.
"When you become the official Receiver, when we're finished here, you'll be given a whole new set of rules. Those are the rules that I obey. And it won't surprise you that I am forbidden to talk about my work to anyone except the new Receiver. That's you of course."
Without knowing a single thing about his Assignment, Jonas went for his training and met the old man who's now called The Giver. Jonas obviously had a ton of question he needed to ask The Giver about his Assignment. And the old man explained how he has kept the memories of people from centuries ago and bear the burden of holding them. The Committee of Elders seek him when they faced a conflict and in need of wisdom for the solution. As Jonas began training, The Giver started giving him fragments of memories. Little by little, as Jonas received more memories, he started to understand many things that was unknown to the community for so long. And he wants to make a plan with The Giver to change the community forever.
"The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared."

I decided to start reading this book (as well as the series) this month because the movie adaptation will be out soon in August ! So I am preparing myself for that - because I always like to read the book first before watching the movie adaptation. At first, I was quite skeptical about this book because it's pretty short (and I have the mass paperback version, which is very small too); but I guess I was wrong after all. This book is amazingly written and I'm hooked right from the start.

This book is pretty hard to explain, plot-wise; and the plot summary I wrote earlier is probably only a small part of the story because there's so much more going on. And I didn't mention several parts to avoid spoilers for those who haven't read the book. The story is written in third-person POV, which focused on the main character Jonas. It begins by introducing the daily lives of the people in the community; the rules, their attitude - basically the world building. I conclude that this must be in a futuristic setting because of all the technology around - however I don't see anything wrong about it at first. But things started to explain itself when Jonas received memories from The Giver, and the way he view things begins to change. The best thing about the plot is that it slowly builds the intensity and conflict, making me eager to read more and see the end of it. I also love the shocking twist and revelation about several things - which I won't mention here to avoid spoilers. But I was gaping when I read that part. Very intense. And although the ending is pretty vague, I know I'll be getting some answers in the next companion books.

What I love most about the book is the world building; and how the community works. I think it's pretty fascinating how everything is in order and there's no feelings and their daily lives are basically just routines. As I've said earlier, at first I don't see anything wrong with the community; even though they do seem to live like robots. Some of the things that fascinates me are:
  • The changes in the children's jackets, which indicates their change as they get older. I think this one is really cute. I imagined all the little five-year-old helped each other with their jackets. And when they're seven, they get the front buttons to dress by themselves, and then jacket with pockets so they can start taking care of their own small things.
"The little girl nodded and looked down at herself, at the jacket with its row of large buttons that designated her as a Seven. Fours, Fives, and Sixes all wore jackets that fastened down the back so that they would have to help each other dress and would learn interdependence.
The front-buttoned jacket was the first sign of independence, the first very visible symbol of growing up. The bicycle, at Nine, would be the powerful emblem of moving gradually out into the community, away from the protective family unit."
  • When Jonas asked his parents if they loved him. I was baffled by the parent's response, it was totally unexpected. And by this point, I was sure how the community is so wrong and wicked in a way. For further explanation about this part, I think you should read the book for yourself - because I don't want to spoil too much.
"Your father means that you used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it's become almost obsolete... And of course our community can't function smoothly if people don't use precise language. You could ask, 'Do you enjoy me?' The answer is 'Yes,'."
  • About the Release. From the beginning, the Release was mentioned a lot. It happened to the Old who are no longer useful to the community, to babies who're born differently, and also to other people as punishments. The meaning of this Release is pretty ambiguous at first. All I know was that when a person is Released, they're sent to Elsewhere - which I also don't know where - so they're separated from the safety of the community. BUT, what it actually means seriously took me by surprise - especially when Jonas's father Released a baby in a cute sweet-like manner. I won't spoil what it really is though ;)
I think those are what I can remember so far; but I think there's a lot more things that intrigued me in book. Jonas's reaction after he received the memories and started to realize how much the community has missed from the world is also very interesting to me. All his life, everything is plain and without meaning. He also felt like his freedom was taken away because of the Sameness (which made everyone in the community equal in every way). Overall, I think it's the world building that made me love this book the most - the community in which Jonas lived made me think about a lot of things. And I am so looking forward to reading the next book, which is also the companion for The Giver :))
"But now that I can see colors, at least sometimes, I was just thinking: what if we could hold up things that were bright red, or bright yellow, and he could choose? Instead of the Sameness."
As I've said earlier, I'm reading this book to prepare myself for the movie adaptation; but since I already read the book, I'm kind of worried about how the movie adaptation is going to portray the plot that slowly builds the story and reveal things little by little. Judging from the movie trailer, I think some parts of the movie are going to appear in black and white - and I'm pretty sure there will be a lot of changes in the movie plot. Even so, I'm still looking forward to seeing this movie adaptation - hopefully it won't be totally disappointing. For those who haven't seen the trailer yet, check it out below :) Who knows you'll be interested to pick up and read the book first ;))

 
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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