This is a simple, 180 page novella for young adults. The story is of what seems like a utopian future of equality, abundance and blandness. Nobody has any personality, not is allowed to make any choices for themselves, but this seems like a fair trade-off for no war, hunger or poverty.
At first I very much like the sound of this future. Everyone must use proper and correct language, anyone saying “I literally died laughing” would be spanked with a ruler. Lying is not allowed. People must use manners, and if they accidentally forget and say something rude then they must apologise straight away. Lovely. My kind of place.
In this world people have their jobs chosen for them at the age of twelve, and our protagonist, twelve-year-old Jonas, is assigned the job of being the Receiver. His predecessor becomes the Giver and must pass on memories to him by some magical touch. Everyone in the community has brown eyes and people with this special gift are blue eyed, but we will ignore the slight Nazi slant of this. We will also ignore how the magical transmission actually happens, because the book does.
In fact, for the second half of the book I felt as if Lowry was almost in a rush to get it over with. They quickly hatch an action plan on how to put their world to rights, the characters barely discuss it and the plan is put in to motion then we speed along to the end. It seems less of a story to me, than a few prompts to encourage pre-teens to consider life, the universe and everything and ponder what it means to be alive. Anyone above the age of twelve might be better off reading Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty Four.