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How 'The Giver' paved the way for 'The Hunger Games' and other YA dystopian lit

'The Giver' comes to theaters August 15th, more than 20 years after publication. The book helped pave the way for 'The Hunger Games' and more of today's dystopian YA lit.
The Weinstein Company

More than 20 years since it was first published, the movie adaptation of Lois Lowry’s best-selling novel "The Giver" finally hits theaters on Aug. 15. It’s been a long road to the big screen, but over the last two decades "The Giver" has survived the test of time and stood out amidst the rising trend of Young Adult literature.

Many of today’s big hits owe their success to the likes of "The Giver," and perhaps none more so than "The Hunger Games."

Suzanne Collins’ trilogy tells of a dystopian world, in which an oppressive government every year forces 24 children to fight to the death for televised entertainment.

In "The Giver," Jonas (played in the movie by Brenton Thwaites) lives in a society of “Sameness” – in which choice has been eliminated, and everyone lives a supposedly harmonious life.

Though on the surface, the two stories seem drastically different, they do in fact have much in common. For starters, the society in "The Giver" isn’t really the utopia it’s meant to be; besides being stripped of emotions, color, and choice – the community lives under an oppressive system that also controls the murder of children and the elderly.

Lowry’s novel laid the foundation for what would become the dystopian genre in Young Adult fiction, of which "The Hunger Games" has become a major staple. The Giver was one of the finest YA dystopian novels before “YA dystopia” was a trend, and continues to draw in new readers despite the onslaught of new releases hitting the YA shelves every week.

"The Giver" is a book that, from the beginning, forced audiences to question society, to think seriously about love, choice, and memory, and to allow young readers to believe they have the power to change the world.

This sort of groundwork has paved the way for "The Hunger Games" and countless other YA dystopian novels, which feature rebellions lead by unexpected heroes, fighting against oppression. Fighting for love, freedom, choice – all the things Jonas fights for in a much quieter, more personal rebellion in "The Giver"

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