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YMMV: The Giver

The book

  • Accidental Innuendo: ‘Giver’ and ‘Receiver’. Made worse by the method used to channel memories—the Giver strokes the Receiver’s back.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: The book Deconstructing Penguins applies some Fridge Logic and points out that people don't lie unless they know what they are doing is wrong. The argument escalates until "Jonas is no longer running away from a place where everyone believes the same things and he's different. He's running away from a place of terrible corruption that desperately needs him as the one person who might be able to make things better." In-story, this is explained as the reason The Giver stays, and Jonas does not. One must leave for the memories to return, and the Giver is not as hale and is more experienced with comforting people.
  • Anvilicious: In the third novel, Messenger, the protagonist blatantly states that the entire world, or at least the forest that surrounds his village, is really just a metaphor for the human condition.
  • Common Knowledge: Despite strict regulations on behavior, the book acknowledges that people in the Community still have distinct personalities (government-mandated personality tests are a huge plot point) and that certain people have distinctive physical traits in spite of selective breeding designed to prevent them. Still, The Giver is generally remembered as "that book about a futuristic society where everyone looks and acts the same", even though the truth is a bit more complex than that.
  • Fanon: Many fans of the band Weezer believe that the song "My Name is Jonas" was inspired by The Giver, though Word of God has never confirmed this.
  • First Installment Wins: A lot of people read this book at some point, usually for Middle School. However, almost nobody knows there were three sequels.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • The reveal of the true nature of the "Release" is this for the entire society. For Jonas, his father in particular goes over the line, as he's the one doing the Release to a baby. This is softened in the Live-Action Adaptation as he undergoes a My God, What Have I Done? moment once, upon the release of the memories, it dawns upon him that he's been committing murder all along.
    • Subverted by Asher in the film adaptation when he's sent to kill Jonas mid-flight and he accepts the task only to merely pretend to do so by dropping him into a river, with the deception allowing Jonas to continue down to Elsewhere.
  • This Is Your Premise on Drugs: "Scopolamine of the soul," to quote the author. The drug has multiple uses, but what she meant is that the society depicted has numbed itself to feeling.
  • Uncanny Valley
  • Unfortunate Implications: The movie has the Giver talk about other creatures who "knew their mother and father." Rosemary's first bad memory was of a daughter being taken away from her mother, and the Giver had gone easy on her up to that point because she was his daughter. Jonas says to Fiona in the film that their family units aren't their real families. He probably means because they don't love their children, but taken together it all seems to imply that biological parents are somehow better than adoptive ones. Given the fact that their emotions are suppressed and they aren't even allowed to know their biological parents exist this a bit more understandable than most examples, however.
  • The Woobie: Poor, poor Rosemary...
    • Jonas as well. The poor guy eventually starts to break down, when he realizes that he can't express the new things he knows and feels to his friends or family. His best friend becomes impatient with him after inadvertently triggering Jonas's memory of dying in a war and brushes it off when Jonas tries to explain why he's upset. Jonas's parents scold him for using imprecise language when he asks them "do you love me?" And then, he finds out that his father-a kind man who Jonas always thought of as being good with kids-cheerfully euthanizes babies who don't measure up to the community's criteria. Even worse, he learns that his dad has every intention of doing this to a baby that had been living in their house and who they'd all been bonding with. Jeez!

The film

  • Romantic Plot Tumor: The biggest complaint of the movie is the romantic story between Jonas and Fiona that was not in the book. In the book, Jonas merely had a crush on Fiona and the tragedy was that romance was impossible for them because Fiona was irretrievably brainwashed by the community and even committed "Release" on senior citizens.
  • Tainted by the Preview: The fans are not happy about the movie's trailer. If you didn't know better, you'd swear it was actually a parody of In Name Only adaptations that only exist to jump on the bandwagon of young adult dystopias. This lightened up a bit on the movie's release, as it's far less action-heavy and more true to the book than the trailers let on.

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