Friday, January 14, 2011

THE GIVER by Lois Lowry

I'm going old-school in my pick today, as in all the way back to a book first published in 1993. It did dystopian before dystopian was cool. It won the 1994 Newbery Medal, yet stirred much controversy and remained one of the most "challenged" books of the 1990's: THE GIVER by Lois Lowry.

Summary: The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to "Sameness", a plan which has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory," the person who stores all the memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. When Jonas meets the Giver, he is confused in many ways. The Giver is also able to break some rules, such as turning off the speaker and locking his door. As Jonas receives the memories from the previous receiver—the "Giver"—he discovers the power of knowledge. The people in his community are happy because they don't know of a better life but the knowledge of what they are missing out on could create chaos. He faces a dilemma: Should he stay with the community, his family living a shallow life without love, color, music and knowledge or should he run away to where he can live a full life?

What I liked: I'm a huge fan of all things dystopian, yet what struck me about this book was its originality. It's a simply written, yet powerful story of a young boy, and I was completely hooked from page one. This book has clearly had a huge influence on the genre--I've recently read several dystopian ARC's, and saw a movie (Equilibrium), that included similar elements. If you read or write dystopian, I'd say this is a must read, and it would make for some great book club discussions!   

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