This was by far my most favorite book in this series.
Maybe it's because I identify with Julietta more than any of the previous female protagonists. I love them all, but Julietta's all work no play was much easier for me to understand than needing to save my home or feeling overshadowed by siblings. She's strong independent, has fought sexism, has learned not to ask for help, and struggles with asking for help even when she needs it.
For those of you wondering, DNF means "Did Not Finish"
It breaks my heart when I don't enjoy a book (I'm looking at you, The Great Gatsby and Moby Dick), even more so when it leads me to quit without reaching the ending.
One of the reasons I may have been disappointed was the sheer amount of hype surrounding this book, and upcoming movie (starring and executively produced by Emma Watson). All the press about this book have raved about the strong female protagonist who is a queen in her own right and does not have the distraction of a love interest (as is very popular in YA novels) while she is trying to run her country, The Tearling.
Though I did not finish the book, I agree with that assessment. It was clear from the first chapters, and even more so in the second. Rather than go on complimenting Kelsea, I will plainly state that the main character was not the reason I put down this book.
Carina and Max's story is awesome. It burns fast and hot, and their interactions with each other are filled with so much angst and anxiety that it burns off the pages.
She always had a crush on her big brother's best friend, but she's grown up to be a strong woman in her own right, even if she doesn't always remember that fact. Her love of animals and artistic ability also revealed certain sides of her that make her an interesting, multifaceted character.
I didn't like this story as much as The Marriage Bargain, but I did enjoy Michael and Maggie's story. He's an alpha male business man with some "traditional" ideas about what he wants in a wife. Maggie is an outspoken spitfire with a warm heart hidden by her snarky exterior.
I really enjoyed this story. Nick and Alexa knew each other as children, and always teased each other (sometimes taking it a bit too far). When they meet again as adults, over Nick's desk for negotiating a fake marriage, they realize the other has grown up and that they're attracted to each other. That's an understatement.
Movie Description: In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world.
Book Synopsis: Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
Read my book review of The Giver.
I will admit that I was initially very worried about this movie. I know that the star power of Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgård should have put me at ease, but the trailers seemed so bland and too futuristic when compared to the book that I was still freaking out. The title treatment also reminded me the alien TV show V, so that didn't help. My skepticism didn't abate when Lois Lowry herself, said:
I had seen Brenton Thwaites in Maleficent and wasn't too impressed, though I think that had to do more with the dull role of the prince than his acting skills. (Sidenote: you can read my movie review of Maleficent and my post on villains.) In The Giver, however, he shines.
I had never heard of Odeya Rush before, but her portrayal of Fiona was captivating. I liked her character much more because of her acting than in the book. I thought she was kind of shallow in the original source material, but the movie also developed her more to serve as a viable love interest for Jonas. I despise the need to add romance to every YA story (book or movie), but it surprisingly didn't bother me as much as I expected.
Another change that I assumed would ruin the movie was the aging of the characters from 12 to 16 (again to follow the YA dystopian trend), but I think it works very naturally. 12 and 16 were very pivotal years in my life (more so than 13 and 17) so seeing a 16-year old Jonas facing these dark themes resonated with me.
What was also really great was the larger scope of the movie that wasn't shown in the book. The book is told from Jonas' POV so a lot of behind the scenes in the Community went unseen in the reading experience, but the movie can easily switch from Jonas' POV to the Chief Elder's, who is played Meryl Streep.
The Chief Elder's role (and tension between her and The Giver) was expanded for the movie. Understandable, since it's Meryl Streep we're talking about here, but the change was so seamless that for those who haven't already read the book (or read the articles talking about the changes made), you would never have guessed it had ever been otherwise.
The style of the movie showed clear parallels to The Hunger Games (The Communities resemble the District logos and Capitol) and Divergent (The Graduation—"Ceremony of Twelve" in the book—looks like the Choosing Ceremony). Despite this, The Giver is unique in its own right as a movie. The main reason is the way they portrayed the memories. And, if anyone says The Giver is copying plot elements, remember it was published in 1993—years before either of the modern dystopian trilogies. I already wrote a post on how The Giver is responsible for the current trend of YA dystopian novels like The Hunger Games and Divergent.
Overall, I loved this movie and agree with Lois Lowry's assessment (see image quote above). You can read my book review of The Giver, or buy the book yourself.
And finally, for those of you who have already read the book and seen the movie, here is a good review on how faithful the film was to its source material (it has spoilers, so again, read and watch–in that order).
FYI, The Giver was inspired by the author's father's memory loss. Here's another interesting interview with Lois Lowry. And here's one where she more strictly talks about the page to screen adaptation.
Jeff Bridges originally intended his father to play The Giver, but his father died a few years later.
On a random note, the girl who plays Fiona looks like Anna Kendrick on the poster, but really resembles Mila Kunis in more ways than one.
With the success of The Hunger Games Trilogy (get the fancy paperback foil edition) and the upcoming movie adaptation of The Giver (Book 1 of The Giver Quartet), it's no surprise that The Divergent Trilogy is popular among both book and film audiences.
Two days ago, I read an interesting book called Divergent Thinking: YA Authors on Veronica Roth's Divergent Trilogy. from Smart Pop Books (their other books look awesome). It reminded me of The Hunger Games and Philosophy: A Critique of Pure Treason from Wiley Publishing (part of The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, not to be confused with the Popular Culture and Philosophy Series).
Anyway, both books analyze why everyone seems to be obsessed with specific Dystopian YA novels (and their film adaptations). Back when I was still doing PR work for Melissa A. Petreshock, another teen was doing a Throwback Thursday series (which rocked), and talked about The Giver and Divergent. Read that post when you're done here. And here's another post about the over-saturation of said genre.
Divergent Thinking differs from The Hunger Games and Philosophy in that it is comprised of essays, ranging from the psychology to modern-day equivalents of the Faction System, by other YA authors instead of a philosopher. The first essay of Divergent Thinking, "From Factions to Fire Signs" by Rosemary Clement-Moore, states that the reason "we like books that sort people" (a common theme in dystopian fiction) "comes down ... to a paradox:"
My mom hasn't finished either dystopian trilogy, which is fine. My only stipulation is that she finish reading them before the 4th movie comes out for each series (the fact that the film industry is splitting the last book in 2 for every series since Harry Potter pisses me off, but that's another topic that I won't go into here).
I was talking to her about why Lois Lowry should be given a medal for making dystopian a popular genre of Young Adult Fiction because without The Giver, Katniss and Tris' stories probably wouldn't have been published (again, read this article).
Update 8/18/14: New York Magazine referred to Lowry as "the godmother to The Hunger Games, Divergent, and the general dystopia mania of the last decade."
The conversation then veered into my opinion of which trilogy I liked better (The Giver is my favorite of all 3 works, hand down). I said Divergent. I think the Hunger Games books were written better, but I like that the Faction System is based on values and that there is a Choosing Ceremony. There's still a bunch of corruption and rules in that government as there is in the Capitol and even the Board of Elders, but at least there is the illusion of real choice. In contrast, the Districts are arbitrary. If you're born in District 12, you're stuck as a mine-worker. The only way out is by winning the Hunger Games (by murdering 23 other people—yeah, no thanks).
The Giver had both aspects. While the Elders assigned jobs at the Ceremony of Twelve (which is now Ceremony of Sixteen, because Hollywood is obsessed with teenagers), the decisions are based off observations of the students and their extra-curricular activities. It's not as arbitrary as in Collins' world.
I'm not saying any of the 3 worlds is better than the other. One has a fight to the death, the other creates mindless drones, and the final one (or first if you go by publication date) has drugs that represses all emotion. I certainly wouldn't want to live in any of them, if given the choice.
The dystopian genre works for young adults because rebellion is inevitable, and all of the stories have a teenage protagonist fighting (and usually winning, at least in some way) against the control of their oppressive adult governments.
Do you agree or disagree with what I said? Have anything to add? Comment below!
And for those of you who are curious to read my book reviews of the 3 mentioned books:
Today I went to the awesome Writer's Digest Pro (part of the Writers Digest Conference 2014 #WDC14). It was a pretty packed schedule of seminars from 8:30-3:30, and while I'm thoroughly exhausted, I took a good amount of notes and learned lots of new stuff!
You can download my notes here.
Also, the last 2 books listed under Self-Publishing were mentioned multiple times, so go check out my list of Must-Read Books for Writers.
TCWT: "What characters are you most like?"
ZH: I would say that there are multiple ones.
What characters are you resemble, or would like to be similar to?
I'm a self-published author— because being a college student wasn't hard enough! I write YA multi-genre fiction for young adults or the young at heart. I love This Is Us, NCIS, BBC's Sherlock,
All opinions featured on this blog are mine unless otherwise marked as a sponsored or guest post. All book links are affiliate links.