Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry (audio)

The Giver
By Lois Lowry
4 hours 48 Minutes
Random House, Inc.

Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

**Review refers to the audiobook version of The Giver**

I can’t believe that I’ve never read this book before. Ever. It seems like one of those books that errrrybody on the planet read when they were a kid. I don’t know how I missed it, to be honest.

So The Giver is an old-school dystopian. It takes place in a super cold and unfeeling society where every aspect of life it carefully planned, plotted, and regulated. There is a rule for everything. EVERYTHING. There is a rule about hair ribbons for girls under the age of 9 being neatly tied, ffs. Children receive bicycles at 9. They’re not allowed to ride them before then, but apparently this is a rule that everyone breaks. LOOK OUT, CRIMINALS.

People are “given” spouses. Even the number of children in a family – two children, one male and one female – is ruled by the government. And the children are not born into a family the normal way. Prospective parents apply for permission to get a child (which sometimes sounds like a not so bad idea, to be honest) and they have a child assigned to them. Oh, and the elderly or children who are not up to par are “released”, which is really just a nice way of saying done away with.

Basically it just sounded like a tremendously terrible place in spite of all of the rules that are supposed to make life easy/great. Feelings are discussed and dissected on a Stepford-crazy level. Everything is just so stiff. When kids are unhappy or scared, they are allowed to take a designated “comfort object” to bed. Really? Comfort object? Your job is assigned to you by elders of the community, so basically you have no free will. There aren’t even any colors. Somebody call the fun police. It took me until the very end of the book to connect with any of the characters, they were all just so bland and obedient. Finally Jonas did something outside of the norm and I could have hugged him had he been real and not fictional.

I’d have lasted, like, ten minutes in this society before being released. These people were plain crazy and personality-free and I can’t even imagine how boring that kind of life would be. Somebody calls the waahmbulance every time someone has the smallest inconvenience, frustration, or fear. And everyone is so creepily obedient. Not my style.

As far as the audiobook, I thought that the narrator was pretty good. Not a ton of emotion, which fit in really well with the book itself. There were kind of weird bouts of music throughout. I couldn’t figure out if these were supposed to signify the ends of the chapters. I assume they were, but since there were no introductions to the chapters who really knows? It was a nice short book that was perfect to get through in a single work day.

I feel like I should have read this book as a kid. As an adult I just found it to be honestly kind of irritating, and I know that I’m slamming a classic but I can’t help it. I guess the further I get into adulthood the harder it is for me to believe that people would ever behave this way, giving up their liberties like this. Ultimately The Giver just didn’t grab me, although I give it a lot of credit for quote probably inspiring a lot of the dystopian genre that followed and is currently exploding all over our faces. I certainly think it’s a worthwhile read for anybody who enjoys the genre.

3.25/5 Stars


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  1. I really really really loved this book as a kid. I haven’t reread it as an adult, but after reading your review I think I will.

    • I really wish I had read it as a kid and also before I read so many other dystopians, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

  2. I had never heard of The Giver until a few years ago. I’m not sure I would have liked it as a kid. And I’m totally with you. They would’ve shot me in the face right away b/c I am defiant. I can’t see all the people toeing the line. Great review, Karen. As always.

  3. Don’t feel too bad! I’m one of those people who managed to get through high school without ever reading this book as well (though I somehow ended up reading both of the sequels because I didn’t realize there WAS a first book). I have it on my shelf, and I need to read it at some point…

    • I’m not sure whether I’ll read the sequels or not. Maybe someday, but since I didn’t love the first book it’ll be hard to find the motivation.


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