Book vs. Movie: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Book vs. Movie: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Comparing the book vs. the movie for The Giver is quite difficult. The Giver is a book written by Lois Lowry two decades ago that has now become a movie. It is a dystopian book that has captured the hearts of many. The leap to the big screen in 2014 has excited many fans of Lowry’s The Giver Quartet, however, the drastic changes to the plot make this movie one to wonder why such changes were necessary.

Book vs. Movie: The Giver by Lois LowryTitle: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Odeya Rush
Director: Phillip Noyce
Screenplay: Robert B. Waide and Michael Mitnick
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: April 26, 1993
Rating: four-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

Amazon “iBooks” “”

❀ Don’t Judge a Book by its Movie is a feature on The Candid Cover spotlighting and reviewing book vs. movie adaptations. ❀

The Giver: Book vs. Movie

The Giver is a middle grade novel that deals with quite a deep concept. What makes us human? Lowry explores this theme in her novel by creating a society that has no feelings, simple pleasures or enjoyment. The state controls all of these elements that make us uniquely human in an effort to thwart war and corruption. The reader experiences through the protagonist, Jonas, what is like to be devoid of such human understandings. Slowly, Lowry brings back memories for Jonas, through the Giver, of certain experiences, such as the sting of having a sunburn. The Giver is just one of those books that makes readers contemplate their own experiences and existence in a beautifully written book.

❀ Differences vs. The Giver Book and Movie are Disappointing

The fact that it took so many years for The Giver to be translated to the screen is quite interesting. It seems as though when this book was originally written, the market for dystopian novels and films was quite small. Now that there are huge franchise opportunities due to the growing popularity of such films like The Hunger Games and Divergent series, it appears that The Giver was produced to jump in on the band wagon. While I enjoyed the film and was excited to see so many big names, including Taylor Swift, included in the cast, I much prefer the book to the movie. The differences between the novel and the film really disappointed me.

❀ Lots of Hollywood Effect Added to the Story

When watching the film adaptation of The Giver, viewers also leave with a sense of deep introspection about our human race. These thoughts, however, are brought on in a completely different manner when transferred to the screen. The memories that Jonas is given are done so in a different order and do not have the same effect in the movie. This really seemed lacking. Also, the age at which Jonas is given a career choice is much older in the film, which is an obvious way for the movie to be targeted at young adults, rather than the middle grade children that the book was originally intended for. My last beef with the film is that it includes a romance between Jonas and another main character. While in the book, Jonas does experience “stirrings,” he certainly doesn’t act upon them. It seems as though another movie has been stuffed with extra content to satisfy the need for Hollywood effect.

❀ A Background on the Plot is Needed to Understand the Movie

Most readers of The Giver will probably see this film out of curiosity. A background to the plot is helpful when watching the movie, as some things aren’t explained in depth. However, there is such a difference vs. The Giver book and the movie that reading the book prior to seeing the film isn’t necessary. I do recommend this film to anyone who enjoys dystopian films, such as The Hunger Games.

About Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry is a multi-award-winning author who has written many popular books. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of the popular Anastasia Krupnik books and was the recipient of the Newbery Medal for Number the Stars and for The Giver.


About Lori

Avid reader. Contributor to The Candid Cover. Educator.

13 thoughts on “Book vs. Movie: The Giver by Lois Lowry

  1. Tika says:

    I actually had to read The Giver twice when I was in school, so I was really excited when I finally discovered it was being adapted into a movie. Since then, I’ve heard ALOT of mixed things, not all very praising either, so that really made me a bit hesitant to watch the film. Your review for it is really refreshing in a sense that many ppl just didn’t like the movie, so maybe I should give it a try!

  2. Jaime Lynn says:

    The Giver is one of my most special reads, so I have not seen the movie yet. It is one of those books that, if the movie didn’t do the book any amount of justice, I would be incredibly disappointed, and probably angry. So, I am glad that I read your review, because I think it confirms for me that not seeing the movie is the way to go!

  3. Nicola says:

    I’ve been pretty wary of the film adaptation of this book; it’s something I’m interested to see, but haven’t gone out of my way to do so yet (I’d also like to re-read the book first, as it’s been about 15 years since I last read it and I’m pretty hazy on the details). The crux of this, for me, is that The Giver has much more in common with adult dystopian stories these days than the YA sub-genre of dystopia that has emerged since it was written. Where modern YA dystopias tend to feature fast-paced action and high-stakes conflict, often resulting in revolution or other social change, The Giver, like stories such as The Handmaid’s Tale or Never Let Me Go, is slower, more contemplative, and doesn’t really delve into the revolutionary possibilities. Because of all this, I couldn’t help being sceptical when I heard that it had been chosen for adaptation at a time when The Hunger Games and Divergent are such popular film franchises, and from your review it looks as though my suspicions may be justified.

  4. Josephine says:

    Don’t you just hate it when they decide to put a romance in for the hell of it? It’s something that annoys me sometimes with book to movie adaptations!
    Great review, as usual, I love this feature! 😆💋

  5. gemiinii90 says:

    It’s so funny! My friend was telling me about this movies last night and I was like “I never heard of it before” and now I see it on your blog!! I love dystopian movies so I think I will enjoy this one. Thank you for your review!

    Betul E.

  6. Olivia Roach says:

    Like you mentioned, I did read The Giver for school and enjoyed it back then. I can see why the movie made some of the changes they did – but basically for money making purposes. They added in a romance and upped the ages so it would be easier to find appropriate actors and actresses as well as appeal to the YA audience which is pretty big at the moment. Not sure how I feel about all those things yet…

  7. Amber Ludwig says:

    I have not read the Giver and was excited to see it come out as a movie because I don’t have much time to read anymore with a 2 year old running around lol! But after this review it sounds like I’ll have to just read the book instead!! I hate when they stray from the original :/ so sad!

  8. Christina Carolin says:

    I just stumbled upon this section of your blog and I love it. The title ‘Don’t judge a book by its movie’ soo hilarious. I just had to read all posts. Soo good!
    I agree with you on all accounts. The movie itself was not bad, but having watched it with the book freshly on mind it is seriously lacking and one really does see the hollywood influence. Nevertheless, I think it is a movie worth watching. 🙂
    Keep on doing this great comparisons. 🙂

    • Candid Cover says:

      Awww! Thank you, Christina! I find that most movies these days are being adapted from our favourite books. Sometimes they are fantastic portrayals and sometimes not so much! 🙂

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