Memories, we all have them but most of the time we take them for granted. Imagine living in a world where you have no memories, where everything is good, there is no bad, no jealousy and no hatred. In theory it sounds pretty good and if you didn’t know any better I guess it would be a perfect situation. This is the world Jonas and his friends grow up in The Giver, a 1993 children’s novel written by Lois Lowry and recently made into a movie.
I watched the movie the other night and I have to say I was hooked from the start. Very briefly and without going into too much detail or spoiling the story, the movie follows Jonas and his friends who are about to graduate from high school and receive their role in the community. The role that Jonas is assigned is that of ‘receiver of memories’ for the community. He has to visits ‘the giver’ each day, where he receives memories from the outside world, something neither he or anyone in the community knew existed.
The movie starts in black and white but as Jonas receives memories and learns about the world, and begins to feel emotions he starts to see in colour. His life becomes more enriched, from the memories of both the bad and the good in the world, and he starts to realise that their ‘perfect’ community is not so perfect after all, and he yearns for more and for things to change.
Some very valid points are raised throughout the movie, including the fact that no matter what we do there is evil and bad things going on in the world. We cannot simply shut out the rest of the world and pretend it doesn’t exist. Yes, people can be brainwashed and made believe certain things, however, we are humans and as a race we are flawed no matter what we do in order to protect ourselves. It also makes you think about all the things in life that we take for granted and without which our lives would be very poor.
Now I’m sure you’ve realised by now that among many other types of books, I have a soft spot for teen fiction. But I do wonder about one thing, why is it that all recent teenage fiction or futuristic novels portray such a morbid and dark view of the world. The Hunger Games, The Giver and the Divergent trilogy to name but a few, they all portray a world that has basically gone made. In The Hunger Games the Capital has created a game where people have to kill each other in order to win and survive, The Giver sees a select few people create a ‘perfect’ community where nothing bad happens and people are happy to live their lives that with no memories, and the Divergent trilogy, a dystopian novel set in post-apocalyptic Chicago where people are divided into factions based on their human virtues.
Aside from the undesirable settings, what all these novels have in common are teenage protagonists who grow up in a world where they don’t fit in, each of them struggling to find their identity and in doing so they try to make their world better for their family and friends.
I’m usually one to read the book first and then watch the movie, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie and wanted to read the book afterwards, so this is a first for me. It’s a fascinating story and I highly recommend watching it. I’m very much hoping the books is as good, if not better than the movie!