The Giver by Lois Lowry – Review

The Giver by Lois Lowry: 3/5 Stars


This was a classic case of I-don’t-want-to-finish-it-but-it-looked-good-so-I-think-I-should syndrome. (Come on, I know it’s happened to you too.)

Regrettably, some books are best to read at a certain age window. Which is fine until you miss it. Like me. (Oops.)

But before I give my whole review away, let’s dig into the details.

The Giver by Lois Lowry: 3/5 Stars★ ★ ★

Young Adult / Genre: Dystopia / Content: 14+ / Recommended

Jonas lives in a perfect world…or so they say. A world with no war, a war with no pain, a world with no fear. But it’s also a world without love.

When it’s time for him to become a true member of his society, he gets the chance to see past its pristine facade—and discover the truth.

His job is to receive all the world’s memories that have been placed under the care of the Giver, where they couldn’t harm anyone, but also where they couldn’t be shared. It seems beneficial, placing the responsibility and control in fewer hands in an effort to keep the world at large innocent—but it takes away part of themselves. Who they are.  

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Cover)
The Giver by Lois Lowry

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

Unfortunately, The Giver was a book I wish I wish I wish I would have read when I was younger. It was a well written, well plotted book by all means—but it just didn’t resonate with me like I wanted it to. Like it could have had I read it sooner.

I also came in with movie expectations—yes, yes, I read this after I saw the movie (you can smother me in stuffed animals now, go ahead)—so at first I was expecting something a little different and a little faster, no fault of Lowry’s.

But withstanding all that, it still was a fantastic story, and Lois Lowry’s storytelling is by no means weak. I really can’t say enough about it, I loved it so much—it was absolutely gorgeous and yet easy to read. Her writing was thoughtful and precise, her setting was vivid, her characters were developed, and her concepts were original. Even the family dynamic was new and yet understandable.

But what I really loved was the message. In all honesty, the political undertone which I pleasantly surprised with. I expected nationalist propaganda! Communist brainwashing! (I think you know where I’m going.) But that’s not what I found. Maybe that’s because I chose to interpret it as a cautionary tale against socialism, I don’t know; but I felt like I got a backstage pass to a socialist society and saw unfiltered how it worked, how it ticked, why it’s wrong, why it fails. I was overwhelmed with the cons: the burdens fallen on the Giver and the Receiver, the ignorance and blindness of the society as a whole, the manipulation of the leadership, etc., etc. But who knows. Maybe I was wrong; maybe I should hate this book. I didn’t, though. 

“We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.”

Unfortunately, the unforgivable sin of The Giver, was the plot. It was lacking…just a little. That’s not to say it wasn’t interesting, and it for sure caught my attention, but it was so much less complex than I had expected, and the pace just lagged, and sometimes I didn’t want to pick it back up. I read it because I was stuck with it—literally—and I honestly don’t know if I would have finished it if I had had a second option.

There was plenty of space left open for interpretation, and the story never really resolved at the end, which I hated and loved at the same time. It never really felt finished. The finale was suspended in the air, leaving me gripping and grappling for it, and it was hard to let it go.

The Giver is a probing, provocative read no matter what age you are. It is a story of unanswered questions, leaving you to your own conclusions. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t keep my interest at times, and as I came with film expectations, those were obviously not quite met. I found it more educational than enjoyable. However, I am excited to reread it; I feel like it is the sort of book that grows with you, and I would definitely recommend it. It’s thought-provoking and at times slightly disturbing, but absolutely unforgettable. For better, for worse.

Is it okay for me to read?

Language • • • • •


Violence • • • • •

Memories of heartbreaking violence and war are felt, but their intensity isn’t felt due to the plot and direction of the story.

Sensuality • • • • •

Teenagers volunteer and bathe the elderly. There are some moments of sensuality (Jonas’ “stirrings”), though it stays light.

Substances • • • • •


For more about my content ratings and what they mean, click here.


I hope you enjoyed this first review! Comment below if you have any questions about The Giver or if you’d like to put in your two cents!

xo, Marie

2 thoughts on “The Giver by Lois Lowry – Review

  1. Oh, I hated it. But that is probably because I only read it when my son was assigned it…in 5th grade. WAYYYYY TOOO YOUNG for him to understand what was going on and to make sense of the message. In fact, it made him uncomfortable, and he asked me to read it when he was about halfway through the book. I think some of the violence was quite emotionally impactful (I’ll resist the urge to drop a spoiler here), at least for younger readers. But I do think it is an important story to read and discuss, especially as we wrestle with our society and the politics of the day. Perhaps I need to re-read…and it may in fact be a book that grows with you, as you suggest. I’ll let you know!

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  2. 5th grade?!? Wow! That’s quite early! I would definitely recommend The Giver to a 14-year-old audience and no younger. It would be very difficult to understand the depth of the story and message any before that age—you’re totally right there!

    I can understand your stance on the violence, and I should probably take another look at it (my memory fails me at the moment!) because you’re probably right. 🙂 While it may not have been tremendously impactful for me, it could be for younger readers. 🙂 I think a 7th/8th grader could handle it, though.

    I definitely enjoyed the political side of it as it had a lot of relevant topics to discuss, so that may be worth revisiting! If you do, I hope you enjoy it! Other than that, regretfully there wasn’t much else to the story I enjoyed.


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