Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book was ok. I read it for SunBeamsJess Book Club. I’d recommend it to people who are looking for a read that explores ideas of extreme societal concepts.
The writing started out with choppy sentences that read like an overworked attempt to not start sentences with the same word. The story moved incredibly slow for about the first half of the book and some parts felt a bit repetitive when attempting to set up the scene. The second half got significantly better once everything started to happen in present tense.
I enjoyed reading about the main character’s overall life and behavior that gave rise to setting up the plot in which there was a society that boasted about its ability to achieve perfection through sameness and oppression. I thought most of these parts were well-written and that this initial idea was going to take off to help build up to an eye-opening message. But instead I found myself disappointed when it built up to a climax that that ended up pivoting its strength on pure fantasy.
I found it difficult to fully embrace the direction the writer was trying to take me and what I was already supposed to know. Perhaps it was because the storyline developed into strange separations of function and dysfunction without proper definition of either. It presented a family unit that pretty much only lived on only concrete thinking and the main character, Jonas, was eventually introduced to abstract thinking, but it’s only through the supernatural transposition of memories that he was able to do this. So it left me wondering, what was the point of having forbidden books? In a way, the abstract concept of feelings existed the whole time (even when they weren’t exactly referenced that way). But why would books be forbidden for citizens to read when they wouldn’t be able to conceptualize them through memories which they supposedly never had in the first place?
Basically, it started out as an interesting idea but then there were just too many humanistic qualities that were put into boxes of black and white thinking that were ill-defined from the beginning which threw off the whole concept of co-existing societies with extreme contrasting norms. This resulted in plot holes that were filled in with fantasy. Then it ended.