The Giver by Lois Lowry
I first fell in love with dystopian literature through The Hunger Games. Although a contradiction in terms, I find dystopian literature comforting. Perhaps the comfort stems from the fact that I am safely sitting in my chair away from the destruction and danger contained in most of the books under the said genre. It seems odd that it is only just recently that I've heard of The Giver, when in fact it's one of the firsts among dystopian literature. But better late than never.
Summary from Goodreads:
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back
This dystopian book is quite different from the others of the same genre that I've read which mostly fast paced, filled with terror and turbulence. This one seems quite. In fact I seem to like the kind of society Jonas is in. Everything seems all mapped out for them. From their meals to their careers. A life free of worries and anxiety. Safe and comfortable. Everything stays constant and the same, everything is in black and white, literally.
Here is an excerpt that made me think:
"But now that I can see colors, at least sometimes, I was just thinking: what if we could hold up things that were bright red, or bright yellow, and he could choose? Instead of the Sameness."
"He might make wrong choices."
"Oh." Jonas was silent for a minute. "Oh, I see what you mean. It wouldn't matter for a new child's toy. But later it does matter, doesn't it? We don't dare to let people make choices of their own."
"Not safe?" The Giver suggested.
"Definitely not safe," Jonas said with certainty. "What if they were allowed to choose their own mate? And chose wrong?
"Or what if," he went on, almost laughing at the absurdity, "they chose their own jobs?"
"Frightening, isn't it?" The Giver said.
Jonas chuckled. "Very frightening. I can't even imagine it. We really have to protect people from wrong choices."
"Yes." Jonas agreed. "Much safer."
Still, I know that such a society although seems perfect on paper has drawbacks. There is always a catch and Jonas soon found out what he and his community were missing out on when he was picked out as the next Giver. His training involves the receiving of memories held by current Giver. Memory receiving may seem like a walk in the park but memories are not always happy, some are filled with pain and sorrow. Nevertheless it wasn't the pain and sorrow that got to Jonas but the revelations of truths that led him and the Giver to take action and try to bring back what once was.
Although a life free of worries, insecurities, and uncertainties seem appealing still I don't like the fact that there is no color, no music, and death is masked by The Elders. A world without memories, and some memories are the source of hope, strength and happiness. A lot of mine inspires me and keeps me up and about everyday. After weighing the pros and cons, I'd rather be in the real world despite the all the pain it contains.
The Giver reminds me of the movie Pleasantville staring Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macey, Jeff Daniels. A town in which everything is constant and in tip top order. The weather is always good, the people always do the right things and do their own stereotypical roles down pat. Married women are homemakers, Men are earners, Kids does not seem to know sex. In fact their surroundings is painted in black and white as well up until they were exposed to passion, freedom, and change by Tobey and Reese's characters that things started to obtain color.
As with most dystopian books, this one did not fail to make me think about life, about men and how our actions now may lead to the possibility of our world reaching this kind of dystopian society.
The Giver is a must read especially to the fans of dystopian literature.