Jillian Larkin is stopping here on her blog tour to take part in my Author Review feature, which you can find out more about here. Today, she's going to talk about The Giver, one of my own favorite books.
Last October I was lucky enough to go on a pre-publication tour for my debut novel, Vixen. My favorite part of the experience was meeting with groups of eighth grade and teenage girls at their schools. With each group, I cited The Giver by Lois Lowry as my favorite young adult book of all time. Some kids happily confessed a shared love of all things Lois Lowry, but far too many had no idea what I was talking about.
I understand that The Giver came out in 1993, and is therefore older than young adults themselves these days. I was only five years old when it came out but luckily my older sister gave it to me to read for the first time when I was ten. This may not be obvious from my own writing, but I love science fiction and dystopian novels.
As a kid, I tore through 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and any other piece of dystopian or futuristic fiction I could get my hands on. Later came the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth—a fantastic book that comes out in May. But The Giver was the beginning of it all for me.
Twelve-year-old Jonas’ society has made the world safe and painless by instituting the “Sameness.” The Sameness moderates the weather, speech, and even human emotion. Jonas is given the occupation of Receiver: Holding all the memories from before the Sameness in case such wisdom is ever needed to help make governmental decisions. Jonas is surprised to learn from the former Receiver, whom he calls the Giver, that he is now allowed to lock doors and shut off the surveillance devices around him. Jonas is allowed to lie. As his world gapes wide open, Jonas must look around him and take in the ignorance and shallowness of those closest to him. He begins to see that while his world is stripped of all that makes it dangerous, it has also lost what makes it beautiful.
Within a mere 208 pages, Lois Lowry is able to create a complex and intriguing future. Jonas is a likable and relatable protagonist who reacts to his situation with joyful curiosity, but also heartbreaking anger and confusion. The relationship between Jonas and the Giver shows a lovely connection between a mentor and teacher. The visuals in the book are particularly significant to me. I used to hear books in my head as I read them—I wasn’t overly concerned with the look of things. But The Giver changed that. The way Jonas slips into the memories he receives and how they lead him to inspect the world around him had me creating elaborate pictures in my mind for the first time.
So those of you who haven’t read The Giver, I hope you feel ashamed. No, not really. Though if feeling ashamed would lead you to buy a copy of a book, then that might be okay. But really, read this book. You won’t regret it. And to anyone who’s as big a Giver-lover as I am: Read the book again. I can say from lots of experience that it only improves upon each new reading.
And now I'm left wanting to reread The Giver...after Vixen, that is.
Check out Jillian Larkin's other tour dates in the upcoming days: