The Giver by Lois Lowry


3 out of 5 stars

★ ★ ★

The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

Yes, I committed the unthinkable sin – I watched the movie before reading the book! I’m quite positive you’re wondering why I’m just reading The Giver in college, instead of in middle school like the majority. Well, remarkably I was reading Historical Romance in middle school and it wasn’t on my school syllabus…dumb. Anyway, let the review commence!

Don’t let the three star rating deter or fool you into the assumption that I didn’t enjoy this novel, because I did, however I expected more. Although the idea was extremely interesting – a utopia that’s a dystopia. Devoid of violence, emotion, and lacking overall passion to suppress the most basic of human nature. Love, sex, violence, hatred, are all feelings that come from passion, no matter how egregious or euphoric in nature. It’s basically challenging the reader to asses if they’d rather a world where such harrowing things exist, but also such joyful things exist that they balance. Or live in  world that’s without passion and all emotion and actions overall.

We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.

The question is a taxing one, and we receive Lowry’s answer with this novel. Lowry, creates a world in black and white, lacking distinction and real emotions. People go through the motions, however there aren’t any genuine thoughts or feelings on the matter, which is something Jonas will express in the book.

Speaking of Jonas, I loved that kid! He’s compassionate and honest even in his dishonesty, and will endure the pain of life even when no one else around him seems to understand. However, I wasn’t satisfied with the memories we get. They are so many better things that are utterly human that could’ve been shown to Jonas but Lowery chose these, I wonder why. But Jonas was this character who always felt, but just realized the meaning of who he was and where he was.

But now Jonas had experienced real sadness. He had felt grief. He knew that there was no quick comfort for emotions like those.

They lived in hell and didn’t even realize it. Which brings me to the world building.

The world that Lowry has created in this novel isn’t as thorough as I’d like. It actually reminded me of Utopia by Sir Thomas More because although it’s supposed to be a world of perfect balance there were citizens that were looked down upon – the birth mothers were treated like trash, and the people who worked in sanitation were also lesser. It didn’t make sense to me, like the part where The Giver tells Jonas that everyone has the same flesh…so there aren’t any races? I was terribly confused. However, there were some interesting tidbits like there not really being gender roles, a suppressant for the “Stirring” which is basically the sexual feelings that come along with puberty, kids that aren’t your own and a limit to the amount allotted,  and this mysterious place named Elsewhere.

Elsewhere is the place people go when they’ve been released…it’s not too hard to figure out what this means, however I’m not going to say it here. This is the place children go who aren’t performing properly, this is the place the old go, this is the place “criminals” go, this is the place the failed go. It’s supposed to be super symbolic I guess, but it wasn’t for me because it was so obvious!

Meanwhile, The Giver is an interesting man with deep wounds and harsh pain. He’s seen everything, yet still realizes that everything is meaningless in the world. Being so wise and being the only one to see – apart from Jonas – and not have the power to do anything about it has to be the worst thing in the world.

“Honor,” he said firmly. “I have great honor. So will you. But you will find that is not the same as power.”


Although, this is all fantastic I still didn’t understand HOW they got to this point. There wasn’t any backstory or prologue to just explain everything beforehand – this would’ve been a good idea. Similar to the ending, which could’ve been elaborated further, however I did read that the other books continue Jonas’ story but he’s not the main character.

For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps, it was only an echo.I

I hope you enjoyed this review and tell me what you thought about this novel!

18 thoughts on “The Giver by Lois Lowry

    • Codie says:

      If you haven’t read it, I think you should. It’s really short and only took me about 4 hours to read. I’m so glad you enjoyed the review 😀

  1. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    I had a really similar experience with this book. I think because a lot of people read it much younger, it had more of an impact and was more profound- and because I heard so much about it I just expected a lot more than I got out of the book, I think I just came to the book a little too late

    • Codie says:

      That’s actually a really good point, because this is directed towards younger children and although I like to think I’m still a kid – I’m not. So I totally agree with you, it’s just a little too late.

  2. jessreadingnook says:

    I read this in 6th grade (so many, many years ago), and I loved it. But I feel like I should read it again. I thought it was almost the best book ever when I was 11 (nothing could beat Harry Potter), and dystopian literature wasn’t big back then. I’m so curious what I would think about it now.

    • Codie says:

      That’s actually an interesting experiment! Taking books that were amazing in your youth and read them as an adult. I’d love to see your thoughts if you choose to read it again.

  3. Nicole.Ilene says:

    I actually read this book a couple times and I really enjoy it. However, you make some good points that I don’t think I realized before – even during my second and most recent reading, like how there seems to be some backstory missing or that there are some society members looked down upon because of their job. But it’s a story meant for those between children’s books and YA I think. Either way, I enjoyed your take on it! 🙂

    • Codie says:

      You’re right, it’s geared toward Middle School students, which is something I tried to keep in mind. However, I’m glad you enjoyed both the review and the novel, even if the latter wasn’t to my liking, and discovered some new information 🙂 Have you read the other books in the series?

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