Jonas has a childhood many people would wish for. He has structure, order, purpose, affection. He is never hungry or frightened. He knows his place in the world, and he is content with it. Then, as he turns 12, he is selected for a special job, one that destroys his world by making him look deeper into it, to understand why it happens the way it does, what the moral cost of his comfort is.
I should have read this book years ago. My mom finally gave up and bought it for my Kindle because we were talking about THE TERRORISTS OF IRUSTAN, and bounded societies.
The Sameness reminded me of the dys/utopia in Madeline L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME, where all the children bounce balls at the same time, and all the mothers call the children in at the same time. There is obviously this thread of fear and horror in both books about being required to be regimented, or pay a terrible price. I wonder if it's a coincidence that THE GIVER and WRINKLE IN TIME were written by women at a time when women were fighting to get out of the regimented and nicey-nicey world. To go on one's own, beyond the boundaries of civilization and rules, is fearful and dangerous and you don't know how it's going to end, but sometimes you have to head for the woods, or the giant throbbing brain, whichever is relevant. Interestingly, Lowry's character, Jonas, is male, and I would perhaps have found the story less interesting if he were female, because the choice he made might be considered traditionally feminine. The gender roles were actually pretty interesting through the whole book.
I thought the characters were sketched in lightly, but the plot and problem were compelling, and it almost makes sense that personality was not something Jonas thought a lot about. Lowry did a great job of capturing the incuriousity some children have about adult things.
Read if: You want to think about what you are used to and the value or lack thereof in compliance and equality.
Skip if: You are horrified by utopias, your issues are not about fear of being the same.