The Giver Review

thegiverTitle: The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry

Genre: Children’s

Publication Date: 1993 by Harper Collins in Australia

Reminds me of: Just because it’s a dystopian novel I want to rattle off the usuals, but I just can’t! Maybe Uglies… I’m gonna go with Uglies here.

I think I’ll begin by arguing: is it dystopian or utopian? Dystopia we think The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium. There’s been an absolute boom in YA dystopian fiction but The Giver has been hanging around since long before.

A common theme with all dystopian novels is that they begin as a utopia (except The Hunger Games. I wasn’t tempted to live there at any point in time). The societies are built on the foundation that the founders have created the ideal and perfect state. In reality they’re masking a painful truth. The Giver isn’t like that. It’s a nice place to live, and the civilians accept society for what it is and not what they’re missing out on.

What is expected of Jonas is a huge burden for anyone to carry – let alone a twelve year old kid. In his mind he’s expected to carry the weight of the world. Everyone’s suffering and misery, every war and every loss. I don’t imagine any sane person being able to cope with that. With the bad, however, comes the good. The picturesque visions of sailing, of Christmas, of love – he’s blessed with the beauty too.

Ultimately, Jonas has the ability to defy every foundation his society has built. He has the freedom of choice. The newfound ability to let his consciousness speak and welcome the experience of decision making.

The concepts are written and discussed on a very basic level which is fine considering it’s a children’s book – Lowry has written extremely effectively for her target audience, I don’t know what more you can want of her. It’s filled with ambiguity but at the same time you learn appreciate everything for face value.

The lack of any emotion in this book emphasises the importance of pain (physical or emotional) and every other shitty feeling under the sun. Although Jonas’ society believes ignorance is bliss we, as the reader, have the capacity to judge their construction of harmony.  Without the bad we can’t appreciate the good for its full value. There is no good without bad – it’s as simple as that.

Rating:

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I really liked it! It was though provoking and I found myself daydreaming about its concepts while I was trying to study. As for my initial question – I’ll leave it up to you: dystopia or utopia guys?

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How I Live Now Review

How_I_Live_Now_coverTitle: How I Live Now

Author: Meg Rossoff

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, War

Publication Date: 5th August 2004 (publisher Penguin)

Pages: 211

Reminds me of: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (minus the supernatural), The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (minus the arena of death)

There are three books on my bookshelf I’ve read about ten times each. The covers are just about ready to fall off and the spine is so heavily creased the title is barely legible. They are my absolute favourite novels of all time and I still get the same thrill from each of them.

I first read How I Live Now when I was fourteen and it was just haunting. I honestly could not stop thinking about it long after I’d finished the last page. So I read it again. And then again. It’s witty and intriguing. Gripping and beautiful. And finally, just a little bit of a tear jerker.

How I Live Now follows the story of our protagonist, fifteen year old Daisy. She’s shipped off from Manhattan to England after her father and step-mother decide her eating disorder has gotten out of hand. Daisy resides with her four cousins, who she’s never met up until now, on their farm property. Her aunt leaves the country for business soon after her arrival, and the farm becomes an idyllic haven where no adults have any presence.

When London is bombed, war breaks out. Initially this has very limited impact on the farm apart from the loss of all power. The cousins relationships delve into new spaces and reckonable bonds are formed. But eventually their haven is invaded and the unnamed enemy tramples over everything they’ve built together. Very quickly the story transforms to one about survival as this dystopia consumes their world. Continue reading