What a short little read! This book was interesting because it had so much story crammed into a little 129 page book. As you can imagine it was a quick read that is catered more to the young adult crowd so names in the book include "Jonas", "Asher", and "Fiona". Pretty trendy huh? Well in a nutshell, that is what I thought about the book: a little short & catered towards youths.
The Giver was written by Lois Lowry and is about a young boy born in a Utopian society in the far off future. This community is closed off from the rest of the world and enforces rules on their citizens concerning speech, interaction restrictions, and choice. The community lives in nice homes with manicured lawns that all resemble each other. They also have a curfew in the community and all follow a similar schedule without flexibility. A futuristic "pleasantville" really. When born, children in the community born from a birth mother and are placed with their "family unit" to live and grow and attend school until they are 12 years old. The community celebrates as children move up the years, where once they reach year 12, they are given a job based on their personality traits, intelligence, and volunteer hours. They must perform for the rest of their lives in the community. The interesting component of this book is what your imagination makes of it. I relate it to lottery fantasy. When the lottery is so high, massive amount of people start up the dialogue "what would you do with the money if you win?" The same question bounced around in my head about this book, "what would the world be like if we had this model of community?"
Jonas is slated to have a very respectful job that only becomes available very seldomly known as the Receiver. The Receiver's job is clouded in intrigue and mystery at first and is different from the rest of the job. Where most of the jobs are service, security, or nurturing related, Jonas job is one of solidarity and research. The people in the community operate very productively because their have no choice, emotion, or memories. The Receiver's job is too absorb the world memories and counsel the elders on how to proceed with critical communal decisions. The Receiver needs to train with one other member, who is the old receiver, but is now referred to as the Giver. The Giver transfers memories like love, hate, hear, happiness through a series of random memories stored by everyone in the world. Once he transfers them to Jonas, Jonas has them as if they were his own memories.
As you can imagine, this complicates things in his community because he starts to see the flaws in his community and the evil that is occurring unbeknownst to the members. For instance, if citizens become too old, are born to weak, or break too many rules, they are released to the outside community. Little do they know, released is the community's word for euthanized. Ultimately Jonas works together with the Giver to find a way to release all those memories to the members in order to restore balance and enable the members to make their own decisions and live in a world with choices by giving the power to feel emotions through memories.
This was the first time I read a book, then watched the movie right afterwards. The movie, which stars heavy hitters like Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and some pretty famous people like Katie Holmes and even Taylor Swift. But they are among a bunch of teeny-bopper actors that I have never seen before, so the film does not do the story justice. Although, not by much. The book is so short that the movie was able to capture almost all of the main events in the book although they did "Hollywood" the book, by expanding on the love story and changed some characters jobs in the community.
All in all, I probably won't read any of the follow ups written by Lowry, but it did leave me with some interesting ideas on how culture and society would differ if people had no choices or free will. The outcome would seem to be Utopian, but if its injected with an outsider who wants to rattle the system, the system is all but too sensitive to take the weight and will come tumbling down.