Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” is one of the most influential books of the generation.
Published in 1994, this book follows a twelve-year-old by the name of Jonas and takes place in a seemingly utopia-like world.
There, everyone is content and conforms to the rules.
In a community with no sadness and crime, things might seem perfect and easy.
You have no worries, and you don’t even have to concern yourself with finding a passion.
Instead, your job is assigned to you when you turn twelve, and you spend your whole life mastering it.
The same goes for the rest of your life – including your parents and your future partner.
However, when Jonas is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory, everything changes for him.
Only then, does he start to see the truth behind the curtain of perfection.
There are many deep and complicated secrets that lie just below the surface of this whole life, and his fragile community.
Things might seem perfect at first, but this utopian fiction quickly turns into anything but that as Jonas learns the truth about his world, and everything that happens in it.
If you loved The Giver by Lois Lowry and are itching for more books that will get you reflecting, we’ve got a great selection. You are bound to love books like the Divergent series, The Fifth Season, and Elantris. Read on to find out what each of these are about!
Themes In The Giver
There are a number of great themes to take note of in “The Giver”.
As this book is set in a world where every choice has been taken away from humanity, the importance of choice is one of the most important ones to note.
The importance of memory goes hand-in-hand with that, as without memory, there is no pain.
Similarly, the book explores the relationship between pain and pleasure.
Without one, the other cannot exist. In the world of The Giver, the collective human memory has been given up in order for a utopia to be built.
However, the utopia is meaningless. The lives of the people are monotonous and without passion, but no one knows any different.
Following on, this book highlights how important it is to be an individual. We are not sheep, and we should not act like sheep.
Everyone is unique, no matter what anyone says, but this idea hardly exists in Lowry’s utopia.
Here, everyone’s the same, and they have no freedom to explore themselves, other than being granted a role when they turn twelve.
Finally, control and rules are important themes to make note of. As we mentioned, there are no freedoms in this world – not even to choose your own job or partner.
In a society where everything is so controlled and there are strict rules in place, there is no space for genuine growth and happiness.
NOTE: We always recommend reading book reviews before buying a book for any child. This is especially important in young adult fiction, as there are often themes that are not suitable for children under the age of 16 (If you like this, you might also like books like The Alchemist and other books similar to it).
Books Like Lois Lowry’s “The Giver”
Divergent – Veronica Roth
There are four books in the Divergent series – Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, and Four: A Divergent Collection.
The plot follows sixteen-year-old Beatrice (Tris) Prior in a dystopian world where the whole society is divided into five factions.
There’s Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite – each with its own purpose.
After a child turns sixteen, an event will be held one day a year for everyone to decide which faction they will pledge their lives to.
Tris surprises everyone, including herself, when she makes the impossible choice to be who she truly is, and picks the most unexpected path.
Now she has to survive her choice and go through unthinkable feats to prove herself.
However, things change when she begins to realize that society is not all it turns out to be and that there are secrets that can shape humanity.
With conflict rising, Tris has to find out who her true friends are, all the while knowing that she may be hunted down if anyone discovers her secret.
- Enjoyable storyline
- Strong female character lead
- Tackles some interesting themes about individuality, power, and control
- Many similarities between this series and The Hunger Games
- More explanations about the world would have been beneficial
Themes: control and rules, pain and pleasure, memory, individualism, revolution
Elantris – Brandon Sanderson
This book takes place in a world where magic suddenly fails, and everyone’s lives are changed forever.
Elantris used to be the capital of Arelon, but now lies dark and crumbling a decade later.
Kae is now the capital, and the Princess Sarene of Teos is arriving in the city to meet her betrothed – Crown Prince Raoden.
The pair hope to find love in their pairing, but the prince is dead.
Now, the countries of Teod and Arelon stand on the brink of death, and it’s up to the princess to save them both.
To do this, she had to take power into her own hands and use the title of widow that she was granted.
She meets Hrathen, a high priest, and the two slowly unveil the dark and mysterious magic at work in the land.
Along with it, they learn about the truth of Prince Raoden’s death.
- Beautiful world-building and settings
- Brandon Sanderson’s first published book!
- Tackles great themes and topics throughout
- Contains a lot of clichés regarding characters
- Too slow moving for some readers
Themes: individuality, control, and rules, revolution
The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin
For Essun, three tragic things happen in a single day. She lives a normal life in a small town, and she thinks her day will go like any other.
However, upon returning home, she discovers that her son has been murdered, and her young daughter kidnapped – by her own husband.
The third? Civilization collapses as the majority of the world’s citizens are murdered. Not only that, but now a great red rift has spread across the world.
Enough ash has been spewed from it to plunge the world into darkness for centuries and is killing the land.
Only, Essun can’t just leave her daughter to her fate. No mother would. So, she has to brave the dying lands.
There is no clean water or sunlight, and nothing that makes her think she will survive the journey.
No matter what, no matter how much trouble there is on the path ahead, she must get her daughter back.
- Gritty with levels of gore
- Touching reading experience
- Beautiful plot and characters
- A great blend of sci-fi and fantasy
- PC rating is not maintained throughout, and young readers should be supervised
- More explanation of the world and magic systems needed
Themes: control and rules, power, identity, freedom, revolution, memories and knowledge
Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” is an astonishing book that will make you sit back and review your life decisions for weeks to come.
This book has been restricted and banned because of the sensitive content it contains, but there is a reason behind it.
The Giver was created for young adults to read. This typically encompasses the ages of 12 and up.
However, because of the scenes and some themes within the book, we would not recommend giving your young child this book.
Instead, it is recommended for readers 16 and up, as they should be mature enough to handle what the book has to offer.
This truly is an amazing book and will get you asking yourself a lot of questions, and that isn’t something that should be taken away from readers.
If you loved The Giver and want to enjoy some books that are equally thought-provoking and meaningful, consider reading the three we mentioned!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is The Giver A Controversial Book?
The Giver is controversial for a number of reasons. Although it has a great message, there are some challenging themes and scenes within the book that can be upsetting.
For example, there are minions of infanticide towards ill babies in the seeming utopia, as well as references to violent and sensitive topics such as sensuality and suicide.
Is The Giver A Banned Book?
Many institutions and even countries have placed The Giver on the banned book list because of its content. One of the primary reasons for this is because of the age group it is marketed towards.
For this reason, we would recommend being cautious with the book and allowing children to read it.
What Other Books Has Lois Lowry Published?
Other books that Lois Lowry has published include Crow Call, Anastasia Krupnik, Gooney Bird Greene, Number the Stars, A Summer to Die, On the Horizon, and The Willoughbys.
How Many Books Are In The Giver Book Series?
There are four books in this series: The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
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