To celebrate the release of the film, The Giver, I decided to read the book before going to see the film. I had heard a mixture of opinions about the book and thought I'd make my own opinion on it.
The Giver takes place in a seemingly Utopian society and follows a young boy named Jonas. There were reviews saying that this one was the best books they had ever read, and others claiming that it was slow paced and boring. Here's my opinion:
As Jonas reaches his twelfth year, which is the same year in which they are allocated careers, he is given an extra special assignment; to be the new Giver. The next year in the story is about the training he receives from the current Giver.
The story highlights what would be necessary to happen in society for all to be equal and it's frightening. This is truly a communist society, as only The Giver has true wisdom and experience, and it shows how empty and controlling a society like that could be. There is no freedom, despite outward appearances, and no original thoughts. Families are not even allowed, and in fact are prevented, from having their own children; only those given the career of being a birth mother can reproduce and after a few years of that, they are forced to do highly laborious jobs.
The consequences for those being 'released' is highly unfair and upsetting as it seems to reflect real life in some ways. Those who do not fit in are pushed to the side and ignored, or disposed of, whereas people's differences should be celebrated. The lack of emotion from the community involved in the 'releasing' shows the extent of their oppression.
The book was well written and was a quick read. It did start out slow and took a while to really get going. Overall, there wasn't much of a story to follow. It was mostly about Jonas and 'his awakening' to how the community really was and what he was missing out on. When there finally seemed to be some degree of a story, the book ended without any real conclusion, leaving the reader without a sense of closure.
Despite the lack of a story, it was interesting and an eye opener to the different types of societies out there and the real question: Is there such thing as a 'perfect society' or a Utopia? When you start to search under the layers, the truth will be revealed and it is never as positive as it is made out to be. There are great injustices occurring within the community that no one is aware of, bar those who are involved. In our society, there are great injustices that we are not made aware of, as the Government try to distract us with less important issues, so they can hide the truth. If you read carefully enough into The Giver you will start to see parallels between their world and ours.
I haven't seen the film yet, but the trailer looks like it has incorporated more of a story in to it to draw in audiences. Despite the fact that I enjoyed the book, I'm not entirely sure if I would ever re-read it. It's political, well thought-out and intelligent, but the lack of story may prevent me from returning. I can see why it's a classic book that is taught in schools, and it's left me feeling more aware of society and life as a whole but, to me at least, it's more of a political piece of writing than anything.