Monday, December 6, 2010

2010.12.06 — The Giver Gives a Fushigi*

There occurred, a couple of hours ago, a remarkable fushigi*. And, typical of the truly remarkable ones, some elaboration is required. It begins with my originally joining 'Goodreads', which is a web based social site because it contains an interesting — not perfect library function. Goodreads' is a reading/writing/critiquing group. I like its library thing because members upload a record of their books read (and not read or almost read), which corresponds with my having kept my own 'books-read' journal. Once uploaded, then reviews and comparisons, and rating statistics, and book groups and quizzes can all be interactively created.

And I have been uploading books ever since, with greater or lesser diligence — as of today I have uploaded 1073 books, of which 783 are read. [I still have many to go!]

Tonight's fushigi begins with my visiting, as is my practice lately, the 'Comments and Posts' of the two Goodreads groups to which I belong. Up until November 19th I was in fact a member of only one group (poetry) because I am ambivalent about the time I have in a day to read the opinions of people who are nearly as verbose as me! On the 19th I received an invitation to join a second group, the 'James Mason Community Book Club, and did in fact join it.

Last week I began uploading books from childhood, and this reminded me of a YA (Young Adult) book BH had recommended to me. My memory suggested that I'd read it about 3 or 4 years ago. Because of my extreme negative reaction to her recommended book I clearly remember the book's plot line. But I could not remember the title nor the author, and that is very unusual for me — or at least the younger than I am now me. I spent an hour or more trying to remember them while looking for it on my iMac in order to include it on my 'books read' shelf (and be able to add my review!). When I couldn't initially find it I looked on the PC at work in case I'd e.mailed my reaction to it to BH from there. But after a diligent search, using search engines in the e.mail systems as well as on the hard drives, I was unable to find it on either my home or work computers.

Today Goodreads gave me the answer to my search! It was on ... ...Marialyce's 'Gift-Worthy' book list. And once I saw this, I was able to find it on my iMac! I have no idea why I didn't find it before, because my journal notation includes my friend's name, which is what I looked for. Here is my journal notation:

"20030830;0905","Lowry","Lois","Giver, The","Bantam Doubleday Dell - Laurel Leaf","0-440-21907-8",2,"I read this after BH praised it as one of the best books she has ever read.  I found it wanting.  The beginning was good, with a minor quibble about the protagonist's first leap out of his brainwashing was to the ability to choose... " 
Here is the review I wrote for Goodreads:

I read this book because it came highly recommended from a friend who is a teacher in an elementary school. We had been discussing YA books. She, for obvious reasons, and I because I'd taken the optional 'Children's Literature' course in the Education Department of SFU and found reading YA books as an adult to be fascinating. Thus arose the high recommendation. I was very disappointed. I'll rephrase. I was VERY disappointed, even shocked. The shock was because the book starts off well — not brilliantly, but solidly. Within the utopian community Lowry carefully, slowly builds an awareness in the reader that there are evils behind the literally 'black and whilte' world lived by the residents who had been 'blessed' by science's ability to keep passion and all other irrationalities from displacing reasonableness.

And, while this part was done well, the ending was horrible. Let me rephrase. The ending was dreck. I won't give away the details of its being dreck, but do not read further if you want to read this book and have the ending be a complete surprise. The ending is perhaps the absolute worst ending of any book of any genre of any age I have ever read. It stands out because, while I have read far worse books, I have not read any books written as competently for its bulk, to be blindsided by such Christian banality. The ending moved this book from a 3 star read to less than 1. If I had to choose between reading this book again and throwing sand in my eyes, gritty eyes here I come!

Finally, I hope that my extreme castigation of The Giver won't inspire you to test my reaction. However! This book may well appeal to a peculiar kind of Christian who sees saccharine sweet, unbelievable deus ex machina endings covered in corn syrup as powerful examples of God's wonder. I found the ending of this book to be an epitome of an infantile maudlin human sentimentality that was able to provoke my gag reflex.
There you have it. Another strange little fushigi

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