REVIEW: THE GIVER (THE GIVER #1)
Back and back and back...
I originally read THE GIVER back in High School and devoured it within a day or two. Ever since, this story has had a very special place in my memory (which might be ironic given it's emphasis on memories). A few years ago, I'd bought a hardcover box set of all four books in THE GIVER QUARTET (I had no idea there were sequels written) with the intention of both re-reading this all-time favorite of mine and experiencing the other books in the series for the first time. It can be a bit scary to revisit an old favorite since there is always a risk that I won't appreciate the story as much a second time, but I am so happy I finally jumped back into this world.
HOW I RATED IT
5/5 Although this was intended for younger readers, I continue to find deep meaning in it even as an adult and am so glad to have done this re-read of such a classic story.
The story centers around Jonas, a pre-teen boy who has grown up in a peaceful and orderly community where everything is seemingly perfect and no one ever really feels much sadness or pain. Right from the beginning of the story, it's clear that Jonas is special. He seems to perceive and experience things on a deeper level than everyone else and this sensitivity leads to feelings and introspection that other members of his family don't seem to struggle with. The bond that grows between him and The Giver is every bit as endearing as I remembered it being. I also found the relationship that Jonas establishes with the baby, Gabriel to be just as heartwarming. Even all the side characters that Jonas begins to feel more and more estranged from all felt distinctive and compelling in their own ways.
In-line with other dystopian world books, a lot of the "plot" is really just in discovering the darker secrets of the world. I like how quickly, Lowry begins dropping little hints that things aren't quite right. Even though I remembered all the big twists, I still enjoyed the feeling of mystery followed by disgust as Jonas discovers the truth about his society. The ending was also just as intense as the first time around and although I am still very satisfied with the way this story concludes, I am looking forward to seeing how it continues.
While not as technologically advanced or as magical as other dystopian settings, there is a subtlety to "The Community" that makes it feel both very mundane and very distinct. Lowry details a world that has managed to achieve a seemingly perfect society where no one has to experience much pain or any meaningful sadness. This eerie tranquility is something the book explores quite deeply as Jonas discovers that while his friends and "family unit" don't feel any sort of real suffering, they also don't know true happiness. Seeing Jonas' perception of his world shift over time is a huge part of this book's appeal. I am also eager to see how it will be expanded upon in future books.
THE HARDCOVER (AND BOX SET)
The Hardcover Box set for this series is nicely constructed and have beautiful, matching dust jackets. While these copies are definitely on the more premium side, not all of the material choices are amazing. The jackets aren't made of particularly great material even though the titles do have some nice embossing. Because of this, I read these with the jackets off and found that there is nothing special about the naked hardbacks. It may also be worth noting that this particular entry in the series, does have a "sticker" on the cover, but the gold foiling and 3D embossing of it makes it look much more flattering than other built-in cover "stickers." The fonts and formatting make for a pretty and easy reading experience. One last note on this is that the slip case for this collection has warped slightly over time and I may discard it at some point.
THE GIVER remains on my list of all-time favorites even though the writing is now a little young for me. Compelling characters, a creepy dystopian society, and a dramatic final act all helped this re-read feel every bit as meaningful as the first time I experienced this story.
(+) Beautiful Hardcover Edition
(+) Jonas is such a compelling and loveable protagonist
(+) An endearing bond between Jonas and The Giver
(+) Distinctive side characters
(+) An intense conclusion to the story
(-) The writing is distinctively younger (not a huge con, but might turn off some adult readers)