In this new Utopian society, everyone is perfectly fit and seems happy. Jonas (12), however, is feeling apprehensive about becoming a Receiver of Memory, the most important job in the community. The council chose him for this job because he has the special ability called Seeing Beyond. Because this is a Utopian society, many harsh memories of the past have been erased to create equality for all. The consequence is that Jonas, as a Receiver, holds all of these memories. When the old Receiver (called the Giver) passes down those memories, Jonas is now charged with carrying the burden of the entire community
Jonas struggles with these memories, which only deteriorate after the "Release," a form of euthanasia administered to people deemed "not fit for the community. When his temporary brother Gabriel is also deemed “not fit for the community,” Jonas takes him and leaves. The two escape the community, leaving behind his family and the Giver. The book ends when Jonas and Gabriel reach another village.
BTSYA / Teen Reader (14):
Overall, this is a good book with a compelling plot. I thoroughly enjoyed the design of the fictional city and the Utopian story that revolves around happiness. The writing is very descriptive and gives the readers a good look at the struggles of a Utopian society. Everything comes with sacrifice. For example, qualities of life such as the sun and colors had to be sacrificed to achieve that Utopia.
The character development is also good. Showing the impact of knowledge is very important, which is illustrated in the gaps that develop from Jonas' knowledge. This would make a good book for a Language Arts class. The plot is good and the nuanced ending (which doesn't show what happens) can create discussion before reading the sequel. Because of the unfinished ending, I give this 4 stars.
Teen Student Reader (16):
I enjoyed this book and liked seeing the paradox of wanting a perfect society without any pain or fear. Without pain and fear, good things like happiness and emotions like love cannot be experienced. I learned that although it may be appealing to have others make choices for you, to live a significant life you need the knowledge of pain. This book is intriguing and thought provoking. The book makes you question different ideas, which is rare for a young adult novel.
Readers who like character-driven, thought-provoking science fiction will find The Giver to be a page turner.
There is an implied sexual situation that is short and not very explicit. The main character dreams about his want for his peer to take off her clothes, but nothing is described.
This is the first book in a 4-part Science Fiction series about a Utopian society.
The characters, their choices, and even the society's structure offer plenty to talk about. This would be an excellent companion read before or after watching the movie.
11 and Up
12 and Up
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 14. Teen Student Volunteer: 16
Buy if you are a hard-core science fiction fan. We recommend borrowing this and the second book in the quartet together because of the cliffhanger at this first book.