Considering the popularity of YA series Divergence and Hunger Games, I thought it would be fun to review a novel, I feel, does the dystopian universe so much better, The Giver.
Published many, many, many years before either Divergence or Hunger Games, The Giver, by Lois Lowry, tells the story of a boy, Jonas, who lives in a society apart from the rest of the world. In this society, there are strict rules regarding behavior, ceremonies for every milestone, and one man who alone bares the memories and pain they cannot know–the Giver.
When Jonas is selected to become the next giver, he is unaware of the responsibility of knowing colors, temperatures, and emotions. Through his lessons, he realizes how dangerous his society really is and eventually makes his escape.
This novel is usually taught to middle school-aged children because of the reading level and themes. Even with the delicate writing, some of the themes can be heavy. The author masterfully tackles difficult subjects such as infanticide, sexuality, and death. She also does an amazing job creating a believable dystopian society.
For me, the newer novels did not execute this as well. Don’t get me wrong, I like both novels. They are creative and fun to read; however, the authors fail to properly create believable universes. In order to read both novels, I had to swallow what little background information the authors provided. I know these are character-driven stories, but set-up is still essential to a good novel.
There is also the subject of theme. After reading both novels, I had no idea what I was supposed to gain by reading these novels other than entertainment. What were they trying to say about society? Were they trying to say anything at all? Honestly, I didn’t feel like they did, which is a shame, since these books are geared to older audiences, they could have said a lot.
Overall, I prefer Lois Lowry’s alternative society to the latter’s dystopian universes. She just nailed it; whereas the others fail to fully utilize their playground. Again, not trying to put down the newer novels, but when compared to their predecessor, they just don’t hold up.
My advice: read them all! Seriously. Then, go watch the movies. Even The Giver has a movie adaptation coming out soon, though I strongly encourage you to read the book first as I assume the movie will not do it justice.
I hope you enjoyed April’s book review. In May, I’ll be reviewing something humorous.