The Giver Turns the Gentle Book Into a Gripping Dystopian Tale

August 15, 2014 10:31 AM

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Had Lois Lowry published her celebrated dystopian story The Giver today, it might have been totally forgotten. Not because the 1993 book is forgettable—it would be simply be lost in the the current sea of not-that-innocent YA fiction. Compared to high-adventure successors like The Hunger Games and Divergent, which take their anti-conformist allegories to death-defying heights, The Giver is a quiet pastoral about the heartbreaking realities of being human. It’s a slim book—at 192 pages, really more of novella—about a community that has opted to filter out the extremities of human nature. There are no televised death matches, no potential coups. It’s easy to see how Jonas, the book’s gentle protagonist, might get overshadowed, even ridiculed by today’s hardened YA-loving crowd for the simplicity of his story.

Thankfully, the book, whose film adaptation hits theaters today, emerged nearly 20 years before the young-adult fiction world and Hollywood became consumed by flashier, more brutal stories. That publication date made it possible for the book, so atypical at the time, to be added to junior high readi...

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