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Washington Post: THE GIVER is “The Dystopia Next Door”


The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson argues The Giver‘s ability to transcend the genre of teen literature it created. Read his thoughts below:

“This is fairly serious stuff for a summertime movie. But it is precisely what causes “The Giver” to transcend the genre of teen literature it created. This is, of course, what all parents hope for their adolescents — that they will find, in their own hormonal dystopia, that there is something beyond the edge: a world of love, freedom and obligation, an unseen world more real than real.”

“Lowry provides the old, frustrating spiritual answer to the problem of pain. The very things that make us vulnerable to loss — choice, emotion, desire — also make us human.”

“The answer offered by the Elders is essentially technological — using science and social engineering to remove the sources of suffering. Take a pill to dull disruptive emotions. Minimize differences to avoid envy and conflict. This is not really so unfamiliar; it is the dystopia next door.”

“Yet the story is less a social statement than a philosophical one. In our conversation, Lowry denied such ambitions. “I don’t think thematically but narratively,” she said. “The themes emerge in retrospect.” But in retrospect, Lowry’s theme is the problem of pain.”