The Giver by Lois Lowry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is a very popular book, a reason for which I can understand because I read it when I was younger and thought it was interesting. It seems to be set in a world that is Utopian but, behind the scenes, everything is awful. Babies and the elderly are killed and, though everything is shared, their is no individual.
In essence, Communism is bad(aka sharing and communal living) but the American Way is the best, most moral way (aka individualism).
This little piece of propaganda's biggest issues are that the author doesn't understand the workings of society or the human condition. It may seem unpopular but we are human beings get our sense of morals from our society. The way we are raised and what we are exposed to determines what we believe is right and wrong.
Can these things change? Sure, all beliefs are as water and have fluidity. However, to change your morals requires study and the broadening of one' horizons. It take a long, long time.
The central character, Jonas, does in on only a short time. You may think these memories broaden his horizons, and, because Lowry wishes that to be the case, that is so. Yet, if you were to really think about it, there would be reasoning behind the things that happen. Instead, our magical Christ-like figure, Jonas, manages to understand everything and be more moral than everyone.
Further, this story possess a rather knee-jerk type of philosophy. If you were to present someone with the idea that you should kill a twin simply because or that once you can't do anything for your society you should be killed then of course anyone would disagree and call you a sick bastard.
But what of issues of elderly in extreme pain. Is it not more humane to let them go painlessly? Or of children that are failure to thrive due to disease or mutation. Is it not more cruel to let them live out the three or four years they have in unending pain?
These questions are, of course, big questions and ones that are debatable. Yet here, in this text, there is no debate, simply the black-and-white of what is good and moral and what is wrong and sinful.
This book does not challenge the children it is often presented to. It does not make them think. Instead, it gives the Lowry's world view and tell them that it is the correct world view.
This novel is best used as a warning as to how NOT to write any sort of novel, let alone a dystopian science fiction piece.
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