I don’t really know why I avoided reading The Giver for so long. I read very little YA fiction, ’tis true, but in my reading world, even a bad dystopic or post-apocalyptic book is in a class of goodbadness all its own. Thanks to Yet Another Reading Challenge I finally gave Lowry’s acclaimed novel a try and was pleasantly surprised.
Lowry’s thematically didactic world demands serious suspension of disbelief…the central conceit of the role of the giver and the community’s memory, etc. most of all. And no one will accuse Lowry of being a great stylist. But if you can accept that this is a dystopic vision that is more fantasy and allegory than sci-fi—and can handle YA fiction—it’s an absorbing read.
It might be the influence of another book I’m reading at the same time, in which the main character is autistic, but I thought the flat, colorless prose anticipated and supported the central theme of Jonas’s slow (which takes much longer than adult readers’ own awakening to the plot will) awakening.
[The ending will make or break the book for some readers. If you interpret the novel as heavily allegorical—and religious—the end might be seen as a spiritual epiphany. If you’re a misanthrope like myself, you’ll appreciate the sad end as just that: the end.]