2015 Reading Challenge: Pair 1

1. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry & “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Goodreads.com

Goodreads.com

Goodreads.com

Goodreads.com

The two books in this pair are “The Giver” by Lois Lowry and “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro (my reviews linked).  Here is the note from the BuzzFeed article:

Both novels tell of sheltered future societies gone wrong: the “Sameness” paradise of “The Giver” and the isolated boarding school of “Never Let Me Go”, Hailsham. But each of these supposed utopias harbor secrets, and the significance of Hailsham’s own “sameness” is the darkest of all. What happens when the residents grow up and figure it out?

Do you agree these were good compliments?  What did you think of the books themselves?  “The Giver” is a book I found quite different reading as an adult.  Did you think so too?

Note: I have linked my reviews to each of the respective books as the titles in the beginning of this post.  Also, if you have not read the books, I will likely have spoilers below so watch out!

-----

After finishing some books all you can talk about was “I LOVED that she did that” or “Could he have done this?”  Or even, “I think I’m going to re-evaluate that fight with them.”  There are others that consume your attention, suck you into the story and leave you in a lurch because you forgot they weren’t real life (Harry Potter comes to mind).  Still a third group keeps you fascinated and at the end of the story you linger slightly confused and slightly unsure what you just experienced.  I put both “The Giver” and “Never Let Me Go” in this last category. 

Pop Art's bright colors makes you feel cheerful regardless of subject

Pop Art's bright colors makes you feel cheerful regardless of subject

For me, reading these two books was like looking at impressionist or pop art.  You’re given an emotion and general sense of what the artist was trying to convey as opposed to a particular story.  Yes, there are certainly social commentaries in both of the stories and yes, there certainly lessons, but the strongest impact was what they made me feel without being told what to feel.

Van Gogh giving us some of THE FEELS

Van Gogh giving us some of THE FEELS

“The Giver” and “Never Let Me Go” left me a bit melancholy and pensive about what should and should not be controlled in life.  While “The Giver” made me consider ways I’d like to raise my children, “Never Let Me Go” made me think about living life to the fullest and trying to define what makes a “good” or “successful” life. 

In “The Giver” I think the thing that crept up and made the biggest impact on me (re-reading it as an adult) was the family life.  Jonas, his parents and sister live together without truly LIVING.  He gives his parents pride, yet they think love is an antiquated word.  He cares for his parents, but never thought through that he may never see them again after moving out of their home.  As Jonas learns more about the ‘real’ world through memories, he becomes dissatisfied with many aspects of his life, but I think he shows it the most in his rejection and conflict in his family life.  This book a fantastic reminder to connect to family and friends as I believe they provide a lot of meaning to my life.

In my review of “Never Let Me Go” I quoted Kathy; “What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”  It’s so very true, if you knew roughly when you were going to die would you ever feel like you’d have enough time?  Or would you have become complacent and just think it’d be better to get it over and done with like some of Kathy’s friends?  Or like Laura, do we get so caught up in what we’re doing day-to-day and the frantic hectic pace that having a break, no matter the cost, would be worth it?  “Never Let Me Go” was a great reminder to find value in every day.  Determine what it is that brings you joy and embrace it.

In “The Giver” we get to see Jonas stand up and make a change.  He says “screw it” to all the expectations and plans as he decides to escape.  He has learned what it really means to live for better or for worse.  In “Never Let Me Go”, however, we never get that satisfaction.  For all that Kathy is Miss Independent as a carer and investigating as she grows up, she’s stoic through her experiences as an adult.  Where’s the fight?  Where are the protests?  Where’s the hysterical sobbing at least?  No, she accepts her fate as a clone and decides to softly accept her ultimate fate. 

While “The Giver” and “Never Let Me Go” diverge in their final commentary of the character’s world, they begin quite similar in their respective highly controlled utopias.  I gave both books five starts and believe they are very good compliments for each other.

Summary: I DO agree the books are complimentary.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think it's coincidence that both of these books were made into movies when so many other books are passed up?