#10. The Giver

The Giver was excellent. It’s set in a world with no animals, no hunger, no unemployment, and also no color, music or feelings. The Community is made up of family units, which are only allowed two children (applications must be put in for children). They have pills to suppress sexual urges. The old and very small children who cannot survive the “nurturing process” (basically tests for physical and mental abilities) are “released.” The protagonist – a twelve-year old boy – is selected to be the Receiver of Memory. He receives all the memories of the world as we know it, the pleasure and the pain, and is supposed to bear it so that everyone else can lead an orderly, colorless, pain-free life. It’s got echoes of Atlas Shrugged all over it. The Receiver – Jonas – is like Dagny Taggart, and he eventually decides to shrug away his heavy burden. What is truly amazing about the book is the fact that the sentences are short, easy to read, and simple even. But the message they carry is powerful. I read almost all of the sentences more than once – out of amazement and disbelief, to allow myself to come to terms with their meaning. Can you imagine a world without music or color or any kind of art? A world in which the experience of sunshine was something to be treasured? Thought-provoking and affecting. This is exactly the kind of book that I would want my child to read – at the right age, of course. Re-readable. Also, five stars.

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