Most of my bookish friends already read this book, some says it’s one of their favorite books (ehem, Kwesi!) and I am lucky to find a copy of Lois Lowry’s The Giver for a cheap price (YAY for BookSale!) but I let it sit on my bookshelves for a long time. I dunno, I am not attracted with the book cover of an old man, and I really don’t get what the story is all about! So I decided to read it.
It’s about a community where everything is controlled, regulated and all the same. Perfect. There’s no presence of war, hurt, fear or pain. Being controlled by the Elders, each persons in the community has its own role to fulfill when they reach Twelve. The protagonist, Jonas, dreaded the Ceremony of Twelve and he’s totally apprehensive of what might happen. The day came and he was selected to receive a special training as a Receiver of Memory by the Giver which is the most important job in their community. The main role for Jonas is to hold the memories. These are hidden from the people of the community, the reason why pleasures in life, fear, and pain are alien to them. It’s about time for Jonas to know the truth about what life is in the past generations and what is truly happening in the community.
Another dystopian book I read for this month and I don’t actually know how I will feel about this. It’s true that this is a thought-provoking novel but as I read on and on, I always have this feeling that Lowry copied the concept of this created world from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four which I just recently read. From the concept of ‘Sameness’ where everything is the same and controlled by the Elders (Big Brother in 1984), ignorance, anti-sex and extinguished concept of love and feelings, absence of past and future of the people, and it even has speakers to monitor the people (telescreens in 1984!). Another is that Lowry used the memories of the past generations (that are passed to Jonas from the Giver) to show him the greatness and pleasures that we experience in our life—snow, Christmas and love—but I think Lowry is just implying to us that yes, life is good and that’s it. I have the impression that she just recycled the idea of appreciating life using the past from other dystopian novels.
Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t hate the book. I liked the entirety of the book because it provoked me to ask a million of questions (on Twitter!) and think deeply about what the book is all about. I felt strongly sad for the people (compared to 1984) because they are ignorant of such memories and what if life is truly like that? Well, actually, my life is much the same as the community when it comes to ‘sameness’ and routine. So I understand that this book has a message for me: You must get out of your comfort zone and experience life; that there is so much more to experience outside the four walls of your house. Hmmm… Everybody is always telling me that :)
Anyway, it’s a good read all in all and I think you will enjoy reading this, too. It’s available to all major book stores here in the Philippines so you wouldn’t have difficulties finding a copy (it also comes in boxsets!).
The Giver by Lois Lowry