I’ll sum it up right now: Lois Lowry’s highly popular, award-winning children’s book is one of the most overrated books I have ever finished. It rivals The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) and Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher) in its overhype and crippling flaws that I’m assuming readers either ignore or are too young to notice.
To start off, what baffles me about this book is how something so boring is still quite well-written. There is neither too much nor too little description and the author is adept at creating images in your mind with her words, particularly during the scenes where Jonas is receiving visions. And yet the plot is meandering, the pacing is erratic and the ending is awful.
I mean, if you look at the critical reviews of The Giver, a lot of them mention the ending. Believe me when I say they are not exaggerating how terrible it is. Without spoiling anything, it feels like this is about three-quarters of an actual published novel. It ends right in the middle of the climax! Any writer who did not fail eighth-grade English knows that a resolution of some kind must follow the climax. Here, there is none at all, and before anyone brings up how this book has sequels, I would like to remind you that even books with sequels- such as The Warrior Cats (Erin Hunter) and Guardians of Ga’Hoole (Kathryn Lasky) novels- still have self-contained endings. Good pacing can be a struggle but it feels like there was no effort here put into making this feel complete.
On a side note, I barely fall into the passing-eighth-grade-English category, and have made many stories that have defined and conclusive endings, even when they are parts of a continuing series.
Now to begin touching on the logical inconsistencies... The premise and the world the author has tried to create have so many holes it makes Swiss cheese look like a solid mass. Exactly how large is the Community and how many people live within it? Are there any books other than the ones in the Giver’s room? What are these books even about? How can Jonas’ father and all the other Nurturers possibly carry the secret that they are killing innocent babies inside them all hours of all days? What happened to Jonas and Gabe after the book ends?!
But what bothers me even more is the plot and characters. None of them are interesting or memorable. Jonas’ family is so blandly nice and caring and accepting it makes a Sesame Street cartoon look like the climax of Watership Down (Richard Adams). The romance with Jonas and Fiona goes absolutely nowhere, Asher is an annoying screw-up and even the Giver himself doesn’t have much of a personality. Although Gabe is both a plot device and an infant, he also has no traits to speak of. I couldn’t care about a single member of the cast, but again, when you consider the non-ending, maybe that’s for the best.
All in all, The Giver is a boring mess of wasted potential. It may be deftly written and might keep the attention of a child, but if you’re looking for a book that you’ll feel sad when it ends and the characters will stay in your head long afterwards, this is definitely not it. I’d give it a two out of five. I can honestly say it’s a bad book and I wouldn’t recommend you or your children read it unless there’s nothing else in the house, your library is closed and the Internet connection is turned off.
Side note: No, I have not read any of the sequel books, nor do I have any interest in doing so. If you have and any of the problems I mentioned can be fixed by reading the sequel(s), please let me know!