It’s been quite the while since I’ve last written a book review, and seeing how this book has been a great read and not so popular around my peers, I thought I’d start with it.
This haunting story centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he’s given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.
Jonas’s world is a place practically void of emotions– the passionate ones– and of feelings. It is ruled in a manner that eliminates all sentimental control and stimulates critical and practical thoughts and actions only. In our society, we, as humans, have learned, over time, to trust our instinct and primary feelings; whereas in Jonas’s world, such characteristics are nonexistent.
The rules and regulations throughout the book are applied through the constant reminder of a threat lurking behind every act of rule-breaking. Meaning that the government has successfully established a sense in the Community people to acknowledge the punishment that would come whenever a rule– however small or insignificant– hasn’t been followed.
The goal of the difference in worlds is to eradicate all possibilities of wars, conflict and chaos and to ensure safety and regularity to the living humans through orders and strict rules.
The Receiver of Memories (and Giver) is like a safe filled with vital, almost volatile information. To the society, this fickle information is too much of a burden to carry and hold, so they use the Receiver of Memories to do just that for them. Their function is to store memories of the past in their minds and endure all the pain that come with such a responsibility. They are necessary because the Community has lived for what seemed like ages and ages without having those memories, so acquiring them all of a sudden brings great torture to them; therefore, the safest and most ideal way to deal with the memories is to store them inside only one person– or so they thought.
Jonas was selected to bear such a responsibility because he had the following qualities: Intelligence, Integrity, Courage, Wisdom (or the ability to acquire it) and, finally, the capacity to see-beyond.
One of the most prominent ideas through the story is not judging a book by its cover. In the novel, we are introduced to Jonas’s world as this futuristic, advanced and ordered world– a realm without chaos, pain or conflict. However, to the contrary of the Community’s beliefs, their world is far from the perfect place they picture it to be. The Giver in the novel has repeatedly hinted and stated that without the Memories, the community people, however advanced in their science and technologies, lack many things and, as I quote, ‘know nothing’.
Another theme that flowed in the story is the power of emotions. The people in Jonas’s society have been constantly deprived of true emotions, making them turn to shells with the faces and bodies of humans, but with the emotional capacity of robots– which is almost completely absent. When Jonas starts his training with the Giver, he gets access to the feelings humans felt in the past– like hunger, loneliness, anguish, loss and sheer, full-forced happiness. Such emotions never existed in his life before then in such extent and when they did, they drove him to the realization that the life he had been leading all his life was utterly and completely wrong– and that had him take his first step towards freedom.
The power of emotions did that.
And I loved that novel to bits because of that.
Midnight Ranter (aka Ayaka)