Book to Movie Review – The Giver

The Giver

Today was the wide release of The Giver, a movie directed by Phillip Noyce and adapted from the beloved novel of the same name by Lowis Lowry. this book is iconic, but I’m not going to scold you if you haven’t read it (like I see some reviews doing). I read this book, but when I was 12. I planned on re-reading before watching the movie, but 1. I didn’t have time, and 2. I honestly didn’t want to judge it against the book. I have a strong belief that an adaptation is called an adaptation for a reason. The definition of adapt is as follows: to make suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly.

Movies are never going to be just like the books, period. Once you move past that then you should be able to enjoy a film. It’s instances like this that it drives me insane when someone will sit down, watch a great movie, but tear it to shreds because it didn’t follow the book to the T. Enough of my rant though, you came for a review, and that’s just what I have.

Ps. There may be a few spoilers in here, but I’ll let you know when I get to that point.

I was extremely moved by this movie. There were some things I wish they would’ve done different, but for the most part this is an extremely well made film. That’s why it pains me so to see it being bashed by diehard fans of the book. But to each his own and I cannot argue that there were some big changes.

From a total non-book lover standpoint, I adored The Giver. It kept you intrigued with this totally weird society that has no color, no emotion, no lies, and so much more no’s. It may not be dark, depleted, impossible to survive dystopia, but it’s one of the scariest societies I’ve ever witnessed. Morning injections take away everything that makes you who you are, and you truly do become just another one of the “sheeple” just walking around not knowing what real life is like. These people aren’t starving, they aren’t destitute, they are just being poisoned. It gives me the shivers when I think about not being able to love.

Then we bring in Jonas, a boy who doesn’t always feel like he fit in, and they put him in a situation where he finds out he truly doesn’t. The thing that always boggles my mind is that they literally tell him that their whole life is a lie, how can anyone accept that? Just take it all in stride and go about their day like everything’s the same. I don’t blame Jonas for what he did. I think his response was totally natural, at any age. Which brings me to my first book to movie difference (that I think is a perfectly reasonable difference) book Jonas is 12, movie Jonas is 16.

Honestly, I think a 12-year-old would’ve handled the entire situation different, so I think it makes an abundance of sense for him to be aged up. However, Lowis Lowry wrote him as a 12-year-old boy and it worked, but on a personal standpoint I think it works better with an older boy. If all that was happening to me at 12 I would run and hide and never return. Especially after learning the memory of pain. Nope, I’d be outta there. I don’t think I could handle it at 16 either, but I’d at least be able to talk myself down. So the aging up Jonas aspect is upsetting a lot of people, but I think it’s a win.

[ I think things get a little spoilery here ]

Another reason the age up was good was that it made room for a love story. In the book Jonas started developing a crush on Fiona, but in the movie it goes a little further than that. I know Hollywood is obsessed with a scandalous love story, but let’s be real, aren’t you too? Love is a huge part of the reason why Jonas wants to get back the memories for his community, and I think it was brilliant to play of his feelings for Fiona.

One change that I didn’t so much love was totally changing the jobs that Jonas’ friends received. Asher being a pilot? I understand after seeing the movie just why they changed that, but I don’t like it. They could’ve left the entire Jonas vs. Asher thing out and it still would’ve been good. But at the same time from a movie buff’s stand point I do get it. In the book there was little to no action. A movie like this can get a little stale without action and conflict. Adding the Asher and his hovercraft thing, along with putting Fiona in the nurturing center to be there when Jonas went to get Gabe, were good ways to sneak in some suspense without drastically changing things. In the book Jonas doesn’t have to put up much of a fight to escape with Gabe to ‘Elsewhere’. So I guess you could say I’m in a love/hate relationship with that change.

What I absolutely adored was every Jonas and Gabe interaction. Tears. Tears I tell you! This movie actually made me cry a lot. If it wasn’t watching hot Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites coo over a baby, it was just the horrible horrible things that human beings do, and not to mention the amazing things we do. Love will always make me cry.

So were there changes? Definitely. Is the book better? Always. Was it a bad film? Absolutely not. I highly recommend you go to your local theater and watch this, like tonight. Although it’s late so maybe tomorrow… this weekend for sure. I think this film needs all the support it can get! If you’re a hardcore fan of the book all I have to say is this: keep an open mind, remember what ‘adapt’ means, and just take the stick out of your butt and enjoy the show! But please, if you’re buying items from the concession stand remember to clean up after yourselves. You’re in public for crying out loud :p (did I ever mention I work at a movie theater, hehe)

Go see The Giver. NOW!

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2 thoughts on “Book to Movie Review – The Giver

  1. Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books says:

    So, I read this in middle school and I remember nothing about it. But I think I’m going to follow your lead and not reread it before I watch the movie. I can’t wait to watch it. I think I might reread the book after I watch it though.

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