Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Giver Quartet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Giver is premiering this Friday August 15th. To the younger generation of moviegoers, those in their teens most likely, this is another blockbuster in the same vein as Hunger Games. It's got some big names like Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd, Katie Holmes, and even Taylor Swift. To an older audience, those in their 20s to 30s, they know that this was actually a book released in 1993 by Lois Lowry. Some from this generation, like my wife, actually had this assigned as summer reading, which was pretty remarkable and groundbreaking for the time given the content of this book.

The Giver is a book that takes place in the future, a dystopian future. However, the book is initially painted in a utopian light that becomes more dystopic the more you read. The society has eliminated pain and other negative emotions from their society, called "Sameness." There is no privacy, and no one seems to really mind. There is one man, however, the Receiver of Memory who stores all past memores before the "Sameness."  The main character is a young boy named Jonas who has the same pale eyes as the current Receiver of Memories. Jonas has been chosen to be the new Receiver of Memories. By taking on this role, he experiences a lot of pain, but he also experiences genuine happy emotions for the first time as well. By receiving this influx of emotions, he learns one of the gruesome prices his community pays for peace. He also longs for a time and place different than his current one. I won't continue to give plot away, but just know that the end of the book leaves you at a sort of cliffhanger, wishing for more answers.

Books with unsatisfying endings always leave readers wanting closure. They also cause dedicated fans to write to authors and implore them to write more of the story. Some choose to, like L. Frank Baum who kept writing because children kept asking him to do so. Others choose not to, like J.K. Rowling. She is happy with how Harry Potter ended and has no plans to write more books in that world. It took seven years by Lowry wrote a somewhat sequel called "Gathering Blue." However, it didn't pick up where "The Giver" left off and introduced us to a new character named Kira. In 2004, Lowry released "Messenger"  which helped tie together "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue." "Son" was released in 2012 and also has strong connections to the first book.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt did fans of this series a HUGE service by combing all the books in a beautifully bound hardcover omnibus. It's just under 800 pages long, has a ribbon place-marker, and is a super reasonable price. I also really appreciate the fact that even though they turned The Giver into a movie that at least with this omnibus didn't make a new cover with the main actors and actresses. So if you have seen the movie already or are going to see the movie, I definitely recommend taking some time to read the book. It will be a bit different than the movie but in a good way.

This book was provided to me for free by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for free in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!