Value: It is around $5.00 for both paperback as well as the kindle version. I highly recommend getting this book in the paperback version for your personal library.
Readers: I believe someone with at least a middle school reading level would not struggle with this book. The writing is simple and is intended for young adults.
Summary: The Giver is a book about the evolution of society with a communistic government and social system. The society brought forth in Lowry’s book is one in which everything for everyone is decided for. The elders pick the peoples job’s, mate’s, and children. The community supplies the food, medical necessities, and everything else required to live. The goal of this society was to stomp out any differences and individuality creating what the book refers to as “Sameness”. The main character is a boy named Jonas who for the first half of this book lives in this world attempting to follow the thousands of rules imposed. When he is twelve he gets the job of The Receiver. The job entails receiving all past experiences, emotions, and memories which the community has decided to no longer deal with.
Positive: There is so much going for this book. First and most importantly is how Lowry develops a successful communism. On the outside the society seems extremely happy and even perfect. If everyone follows the rules then it eliminates all negative experience. Lowry does a brilliant job creating this world in which it would seem to be a pleasure to live in, but then through depth of character shows the reader that losing all individuality and ability to choose would be impossible to bear. This is a very short book, but the length of the book matters little as Lowry packs in a story with everything explained. In many cases this may seem like an extreme world and one never dreamed up before, but if you look at many different governments around the world it has been attempted multiple times. I believe that Lowry does a wonderful job showing both the lure and flaw of this system of societal structure.
Negative: It has been a very long time since I was unable to put a book down. I read every day and usually over 20k words. This book I was unable to put down and I place it in my highest esteem. There is absolutely nothing about this book I would change it is one of the best books I have ever read.
Characters: The depth of character was simple yet extremely deep. There are only seven characters within the book which hold crucial supports to the storyline. Jonas of course is done amazingly well. He is someone easy to identify with and understand. The Giver who is his boss is another character I found just done perfectly. These two people within the society have all of the thoughts of the society for hundreds upon hundreds of years. This could have been the biggest flaw of the book giving characters such intense knowledge. The author did it in a way in which I believed these two characters had all the generations of knowledge. The most difficult thing to do as an author is create something which you are not. There is no one with knowledge of the ages, but Lowry really stepped up to the plate creating these two and making us as readers believe they hold all this within.
Writing: Like I said earlier the writing is extremely simplistic. You will not find any difficult to read prose within the book. That being said it is difficult to wrap your mind around the society the author creates here. Even the use of simple language does not diminish the amount of wisdom the author stuffs into so few pages.
Quote: “It's the choosing that's important, isn't it?” Lois Lowry
Final Thought: This book is of course categorized as fiction, but I think it blows most philosophical literature out of the water. Just because this world does not exist does not mean it won’t. Time and time again to reach an easier life people have given up everything. Even here in our United States we give up our privacy and choice for increased safety. I really felt that Lowry in this book brought forth the consequences of such weakness.