4 Ways "The Giver" Turns A Beloved Novel Into Just Another Dystopian Teen Movie
Jonas is now 16, in love with Fiona, and a beefcake. WARNING: Spoilers for the book and the movie ahead!
Author Lois Lowry has been very supportive of the movie adaptation of her Newbery Medal-winning book The Giver, which hits theaters this week, complimenting how screenwriters Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide and director Phillip Noyce (Salt) "have taken [her] work and expanded it, brought it to a new level." The level the filmmakers are aspiring to is clearly the one occupied by recent hits Divergent and the Hunger Games, with which Lowry's story has a lot in common. Like them, The Giver is set in a dystopian future in which its hero/heroine comes of age and attempts to topple the oppressive system, and it kicks off a loose series of books set in the same world, all ripe to be brought to the screen should the first one work out.
But Lowry's 1993 novel comes from a different era, when "young adult" was more of a library subsection than a massive literary industry dominated by sci-fi and fantasy. The Giver doesn't play by the same rules as the adaptations with which The Weinstein Company seems to hope it'll be grouped. Lowry's book, which is a standard on many middle school curricula and reading lists, isn't a rollicking adventure filled with love triangles and feats of physical endurance — it's more of a fable, in which its main character spends a lot of his time sitting in a room with an old man, talking and thinking.
But that hasn't stopped the filmmakers from trying to YA-ify The Giver, and the result is something that trades in a lot of what made Lowry's work a contemporary classic for generic dystopian details.