November 3rd, 2004 at 8:41 pm (Books)
I picked this book up a few months ago. I came across it in a second hand bookshop, and remembered that people on the Child_Lit list had been raving about it. Ever since, it has been sitting unread on the bookshelf.
This morning, I grabbed it to read in the train. By the time I arrived at work, I was totally gripped, and I finished it in my (rather extended) lunch break. On the way home, I stopped off at a bookshop to buy Gathering Blue, which is set in the same world. Unfortunately, Messenger, which involves the characters from both books, is only available in hardcover at the moment, but I see myself getting it out of the library very soon.
I have never read any Lois Lowry before, but I found her writing style very engaging, and the world she created was interesting. The beginning of the book, where the reader gradually realises what the world is like, was gripping, as was the ending. However I did find the lead up to the climax (when they decide he should run away) a little bit perfunctory, and I wasn’t convinced their rationale was right. (Just because the memories were released by death didn’t seem to guarantee that they would be released simply by his going away.) Of course, it’s her world, so she can do what she likes. And I didn’t find it inconsistent – it just seemed like a bit of a leap of faith, in which they didn’t even realise they were leaping.
I can also see why there is so much controversy about the ending. My initial reaction was that he had died, although from what I had seen on Child_Lit, I knew that he came back in Messenger, and that some people felt this undercut the end of The Giver. So I figured maybe the end should be taken literally. Though when I was looking at reviews on Amazon, some people thought he had come back to where he started, but they now had colour, and weather, and families. I guess I’ll find out what it really means when I read Messenger.
At a high level, the plot reminded me a bit of The Awakening Water, or maybe the first Tripods book, but The Giver was much more sophisticated, and much more gripping, than either of these.