YA Highway: Roadtrip Wednesday

28 Mar

The time has come again!! YA Highway has posted their question of the week!

By  de-ice11 at deviant art

This weeks topic: What was the best book you read in March?

I re-read Lois Lowry’s the Giver this month (I had to–the waiting for YOU KNOW WHAT WAS KILLING ME!). With all the hype surrounding The Hunger Games, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my favorite childhood book (and also one of the first  books within the dystopian genre that was geared towards children.

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. (from goodreads.com)

I remember the first time I read this book. It both thrilled me and creeped me out. Unlike my fairytales (yes…I lived in a tutu and thought I was Ariel well into tweenhood), the world Jonas lived in seemed like mine–but wasn’t. Something was wrong with it. It was topsy turvy. Something was twitching at the wrong pace. This both thrilled me and agitated me. It was an itch I could not scratch. His world was being controlled. It was dark. Questions I had never asked popped up while reading. I was young but I knew I was supposed to learn something from this book–I was supposed to pay attention. I could not put it down.

Years later…the same thing happens. Even in 2012, with the literary world inundated with YA dystopias (some that I love, some that I hate), Jonas and the Giver still stand up to newer and scarier worlds. Their world without colors, feelings, touch, choice, humanity: their world without  love continues to remind me that a world without L.O.V.E.– in all its forms– is no world at all. Lowry doesn’t need a supermodel love triangle, sparkley vampires, or a convoluted virus– she just needed a little boy longing to understand the human condition of having and wanting to be loved.

on a side note: this book is being made into a movie! OF COURSE MY HORSE!

Jeff Bridges as the GIVER!

For more info: MOVIE INFO HERE!



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8 Responses to “YA Highway: Roadtrip Wednesday”

  1. Lina~EccentricChai March 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    I’m going to have to look this book up, sounds intriguing.

  2. whatistaste March 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    I loved “The Giver” when I read it as a child, but I never connected it with “The Hunger Games” until your post. I knew there was something familiar about the inspiring and unsettling choice to talk about a dystopian society in a young voice. While I think it worked well in the first two books in the series, I found it (for lack of a better word) distressing in the third book – “Mockingjay.” I would love to hear your thoughts on whether the third book went too far, even for a dystopia.

    • Martha Cecilia (Alice) March 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      Welcome to Rabbit Hole!! So good to see yoU!!!!

      About your question: This may be longwinded….bear with me :) See–I think that Collin’s is making a point about how unsettling everything should be and how we should feel when we see how Katniss and Peeta react to the final deck of cards they are dealt in that decision room at the end of Mockingjay. Your feelings (and mine) of a pseudo-child army (because we get the sense that anyone over 16 could fight–which is VERY YOUNG) taking up arms against the Capitol (which stands for Capitalism/overindulgence and a million other things) for the side of what we can only interpret as what? Communism? Socialism? Some type of “ism” that is led by a leader who in the end turns out to be just as corrupt as the one they are fighting should be very conflicted. Maybe the way that they (District 13) structure their life is better (everyone has “just enough food” and has fair living quarters”) but Collins is critiquing that when giving anyone unlimited power they will seize it and exploit (the Capitol exploited the districts/poor/and the children–District 13 exploited Katniss/Peeta/ the refugees/ the children/medical staff it sent in to the capitol). She is saying more about exploitation and how it is always at the cost of those with little or no agency. That is why it being through the lens of children chills us to the bone–especially in the third book where it gets very military and calculatingly cold.

      We should feel very uncomfortable with these themes in the hands of children–and yet they ARE IN THE HANDS OF CHILDREN. They always have been. When we look around the world–wars tend to fall to women and children. Reality TV tends to negatively affect children (most adults will not try to be like snookie, tilla tequila, or the situation right? Try to undo the damage those show do with 5th graders though…). Actual Wars are either fought around children or worse–with children at the center (Think Uganda or Colombia). Authors like Lowry or Collins seem to be hitting these points in their writing.

      Like you said at the beginning though, we should be unsettled by Mockingjay. with watching children have to be at the center of this dystopian nightmare–and we see the nightmarish effects of it all with Katniss and Peeta. Katniss was broken by the time they voted for a new Hunger Games. She gives up hope on humanity. Shes lost her sister, saw herself used by both sides of the revolutions, saw her friends lose their judgment (Gale) and just breaks. Peeta, on the other hand, like Jonas, doesn’t lose hope. He keeps fighting. Peeta and Jonas are the heart of books like these. Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE ME MY KATNISS. I would have seriously had a nervous breakdown way before she did (peed my pants a little), but Peeta and Jonas point to what young readers are supposed to get from the series (and what readers get from someone like Harry, Ron or Hermione in Harry Potter). In the face of ANY DARKNESS– GOOD IS GOOD–and you fight for it tooth and nail. You should always fight for those who are not represented (children, the poor and disenfranchised, house-elves, muggles, those who are numb because the government keeps them that way). Dystopia in particular begs children and young adults (and those of us who are more adultish than young–27 still counts as tween though right?) to keep on going–continue to value your agency when it comes to fighting the good fight. I don’t think you are ever too young for those lessons. Do I think that we should feel very uncomfortable when children are the ones who bear the burden–YES. But do children bear horrible burdens in today’s world–sadly yes: luckily there are some authors, journalist, filmmakers, artists who are attempting to use their mediums to shed light on those injustices.

      Damn…i wrote alot and I’m not sure it made any sense. EKKs.

      • whatistaste March 29, 2012 at 5:34 am #

        Thanks for that! I completely agree with you on the idea that children are often the ones bearing the burden of conflicts they have nothing to do with. I’m not sure how convinced I am that the third book shows that good is good since it has such a bleak ending, but I really appreciate how you shift the focus of the hero from Katniss to Peeta. It definitely makes a lot more sense that way.

  3. Carissa March 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    I’m so thrilled to see the Giver is being made into a movie! I wonder if Freddie Highmore is too old to play Jonas? He’d be so good at it. And I’m sure it will be an excellent film in the hands of Jeff Bridges. I wonder how they’ll handle the B&W ness?


    • Martha Cecilia (Alice) March 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      I have thought about this too!!! Freddie would be sooo great!!! I do think he might be a bit too old though. Jeff Bridges will be AMAZING though. I was thrilled with his casting. The B&W deal: I can’t wait to see how they do it. I got to meet Lois Lowry recently at a signing here in LA and she said she was very exciting about the people who had picked up the rights and that she had held off for quite some time till the project was right–that made me feel really good about it in general. I keep thinking of Pleasantville and the B&W effect-imagine how far we have come (and even with Wizard of Oz). So exciting!

  4. ambermlee75 March 29, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    I think the second book was my favorite in the Giver series. I love the female protagonist in that book.

  5. Martha Cecilia (Alice) March 29, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    WhatisTaste: That is where you and I agree again (I think–always pour scalding tea down my mouth, stuff me with a crumpet, and tell when we dont!) : The very bleak ending is where the distaste kinda settles in the mouth- and we are left with so little knowledge if anything REALLY got done (I mean–why are they still living in a very sad looking The Seam?). Was anything really accomplished? Was it all for nothing? Seriously, was it all for nothing. That is where I feel that maybe the book when “Katniss” fatalistic and didn’t pick itself back up from–maybe it wasn’t supposed to. Maybe that is the message–but that is a damn hard message for a children’s book. I was hard for me to swallow and not feel unsettled…

    Ambermlee75: I love the second in the Giver Trilogy (Gathering Blue is the second and then Messenger is the third). Some people don’t even believe me that it is a trilogy–I have even heard rumors of a fourth! Kira is such a strong female character that just pushes and pushes through against all odds–and a terribly totalitarian society. She isa also just so sweet and lovely.

    For those of you who loved Jonas–you MUST continue on in the series….it really does come full circle and steals your heart a bit….just a bit…tiny tiny fraction of a bit (just a weeeeeeny bit). I know it sounds obnoxious and the Giver is stand alone (it was for me for years and still continues to be), but I just like to know where my characters end up.

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