Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.
Review: The Giver is my favorite dystopian novel, so I was thrilled to get a copy of the graphic novel adaptation. I'm going into this review with the assumption that people have read The Giver. Let's talk about The Giver as a book first. Jonas is a great character. He's young, and he's eager to learn, but he also wants to please his parents. Seeing him navigate his community helped us to see how everything here works, and it works really well. A large part of why this book stands out is because the dystopian aspects are more subtle than in similar books. This community seems perfect since they found a way to keep everyone healthy, working, and they have a committee that's formed to make sure everything runs smoothly. There are also moments where Jonas makes jokes about rules that everyone breaks, such as learning to ride a bike before the age you're actually supposed to. Whereas, in other dystopian novels, slight infractions to the rules often lead to immediate death. The Giver makes the reader think that this community is paradise because, for most characters, it is. Jonas learns some hard truths as he grows older and he realizes his community is not as perfect as he once believed.
I didn't realize that I was already familiar with P. Craig Russell's illustration style until I saw he also did the illustrations for Coraline. Both books have a very realistic art style. For some, this is a turn off. I quite like the way P. Craig Russell brings books to life. My one complaint is Jonas looks older in the graphic novel. In The Giver, Jonas starts the story as a 12-year old and ends it as a 13-year old. Maybe it's just me, but the art made him look like he was already a teenager. Even with dialogue that is very fitting for a younger child, Jonas just looked older. Towards the end of the story, as Jonas likely ages from memories he has taken in, it makes sense. At the start of the story, it was a little distracting. That is my only complaint and it feels minor. The creative usage of color was nice to see and I enjoyed every bit of this adaptation.
Anyone who has already read The Giver will probably like this adaptation. For anyone who hasn't read the source material, the graphic novel is a perfect way to consume this story.