Monday, April 21, 2014

The Giver by Lois Lowry

After a run of YA fiction that included Hunger Games, Divergent and Legend series, I was suffering a bit of dystopian YA fiction fatigue and decided to take a break.

The break has not lasted too long as I now find myself engrossed in Lois Lowry’s YA series the Giver quartet:
  •          The Giver (1993)
  •          Gathering Blue (2000)
  •          Messenger (2004)
  •          Son (2012)

I got interested in the books after seeing the preview of the film (coming out in August 2014). The cast is stellar with Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and Alexander Skarsgard and the story was intriguing.

The first book in the series, The Giver, introduces us to a world that on the surface seems to be a utopia – life is ordered, comfortable and everyone is assigned a role to play.  But through the main character of Jonas, a twelve year old boy who is assigned to become a ‘Receiver of Memory’,  that novel slowly peels away the layers of this utopia to reveal a brutal reality.

The books are short, sharp and gripping. Lowry is a master story teller and the writing style reminds me a lot of Patrick Ness’s brilliant Chaos Walking Series.

Both these series are “Young Adult”, but with an emphasis on the adult. Indeed, I can’t help but compare the quality of writing, ideas and storyteller in the Giver quartet and the more recent examples of this genre: Divergent, Legend series.

There is no doubt that books like Divergent are entertaining, but that’s really it. What makes both Ness and Lowry’s books stand out is their great depth. These books make you think afterwards about the world around you and the nature of humans to repeat our own history.

I’ve just finished the third book, Messenger, which incorporated really interesting elements of fairy tale and fable genre like the evil enchanted forest. I also loved how the characters grow and develop 'off stage', we only meet Jonas again in the third book.

I'm looking forward to the last book and finding out what happens. 

Here's the trailer for the movie: