I’m sorry sir. I don’t understand exactly. Maybe I’m not smart enough. I don’t know what you mean when you say ‘the whole world’ or ‘generations before him.’ I thought there was only us. I thought there was only now.”
-Lois Lowry, The Giver
Synopsis: Jonas lives in a futuristic society where Sameness prevails and choices and emotions don’t exist. At age 12, children receive their adult work assignments, a role matched up to their personalities. Jonas is dubbed the Receiver of Memory, and he bears the weight of the community’s collective memory of war and pain in order to maintain the harmony of society. He must learn how to navigate this new role as he experiences a whole new colorful world.
The Good: I love the construction of this dystopia. It makes the reader think about the value of memories and emotions and pain–things that are difficult, but that enrich our lives. The writing is engaging, and the characters of Jonas and The Giver are interesting. As a good dystopia does, it uses something artificial to reflect our reality.
The Bad: The beginning is a little slow, so I found myself disappointed early on. Eventually the plot does pick up, however, and then I wanted it to continue beyond what’s here. (Of course, this is a series, so it does continue.)
Challenge(s) satisfied: #7, read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel, and #8, read a book originally published in the decade you were born (1990s).
Additional notes: In a way, this novel reminded me of Pixar’s Inside Out because of the external control of memory and emotions and the focus on needing “bad” feelings in order to appreciate “good” feelings. It was a nice parallel to see, but certainly didn’t dominate.
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