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Julian Meynell's Books

I like Books.

The Giver

The Giver - Lois Lowry A famous dystopian novel for kids. The dystopic world that it creates does not make a whole load of sense. The world does not really hold up to any kind of critical scrutiny. For instance, at one point children play a war game without knowing what war is or what they are doing and this is just silly. It's not clear how the world was meant to come about and a lot of the ways it operates are somewhat mystical. I don't think that these criticisms are overly important though, because it is more a fantastic world that draws on dystopic tropes. It is not a realistic world that has been worked through in detail and that is fine.

The book is a little simple minded. I found the last three or four chapters hurried, especially given the more leisurely pace for the first third of the book or so. The prose is OKish. Nothing really to write home about.

The dystopia depicted is one in which everyone has become the same and all choices are removed. It is a world without strong emotions, or colour or choice. It's an OK kind of distopia, and the way of life it is criticizing obviously needs criticism, but it is somewhat easy to criticize those values in this age of individualism. Some people see this as a critique of socialism, but that maybe gives the book too much credit. It is more a critique of conformity and also makes the point that a life worth living also comes with pain. It's ideas are true, but a little banal.

The characterization is OK. Because of a plot element Lowry can literally draw upon pretty much any memory of anything and manages to drag up some trite memories that are told in an OK way. This was a missed opportunity and much more could have been done with this. There is an ambiguous ending that is good, but not really good.

This book seems to polarize people. People hate it or love it. I don't understand that reaction. Like Harry Potter, I think that it is OK, but there are plenty of better books that are similar.