The Giver

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The Giver

Giver, The - Hardcover - USA - 1st Edition.jpg

Hardcover - USA - 1st edition.

Author Lois Lowry
Published 1993-??-??
Type Fiction
Genre Drama
Themes Dystopia, Family
Age Group Teen

The Giver is a young-adult novel written by Lois Lowry and published in 1993. It is the first book in what would later become a loosely-related series and, in 2014, was adapted into a movie. The book has been quite influential, being required reading in many schools, while being frequently challenged in others.

The setting is in a future society where everything appears perfect. Everyone has a place, they all take care of each other, and nobody ever starves, becomes sick, or is even unhappy for long. The story follows Jonas, a boy who is eager to discover what sort of career the elders will assign to him now that he's come of age having just turned 12. But he and his whole family is shocked to learn he has been chosen to replace the most important elder in their city.


Read?Audiobook read by Ron Rifkin.

I remember seeing this book prominently featured in book stores and again later when it was made into a movie, but I didn't have enough interest to read it, and the strange old man on the cover didn't help. After seeing it was one of the more frequently challenged books, and that it was also written by a female author, I became more inclined to read it.

After finishing it, I thought it was just okay, but I was amazed that so many conservative-minded people would want it banned. I can understand why they want to ban books about sex, drugs, or queer people, but, the overarching theme in this book is: giving the government too much power, even when they have good intentions, is very bad. This is awfully inline with the Conservative mindset, just like with other frequently challenged books like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Fahrenheit 451. I can only assume they either never read these books or simply don't understand them.





  • Like with other dystopian novels, Lowry does a good job of showing how concepts like "safety" and "equality" can be bastardized into an extremely sterile and undesirable world.
  • I liked how, when Jonas is told he is allowed to lie, he very quickly realizes that others might be allowed to lie too, and, if they are, how would he know it?
  • The reveal of what the strangeness Jonas was seeing was very interesting.
  • For as much damage would be caused if a new Receiver died or went rogue, the elders don't try very hard to protect or monitor them.


  • I think a lot of the biological aspects of humans couldn't be overcome so easily as they are in the book. Biology is far more messy than simply taking a pill, and, while it's possible to make drastic changes to a person by altering their DNA, the interconnections of our genome would always cause unwanted side effects.
  • I would like it if more about the "stirrings" was discussed.



Strong female character?FailThere are several women, but none are very important.
Bechdel test?PassJonas's mother and sister talk to each other multiple times.
Strong person of color character?FailNobody's race is ever mentioned.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.


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