Alternatively titled, "Sperg Online Still Filtered by Children's Books". As with the previous post, I read each of these books several years ago, so the following are not in-depth reviews.
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
When I read this book in school, I thought the concept of a random kid ending racism in his town by running everywhere was dumb. However, what irked me the most was that the protagonist is allergic to pizza. He doesn't seem to be allergic to any individual ingredient of pizza, but when he eats them cooked up together he breaks out in spots. This perplexed me to no end.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
This novel is set in a community whose members are assigned societal roles by their leaders. The protagonist's assigned role is Receiver of Memory: memories of the world before the community was established are passed on to him by the previous Receiver, now called the Giver. These memories contain experiences of which the community's members are no longer aware, such as pain, hunger, war, music and colour.
Along with the memories, the protagonist is also given inside information on how the community functions; this includes the knowledge that the community euthanises people, including infants, for the purposes of population control, maintaining sameness and eliminating imperfection. On discovering that a child who may become the next Receiver is going to be euthanised, the protagonist flees the community with the child. His escape will cause the memories he has received to be passed on to every member of the community.
Many of the story's details are unexplained, or simply make no sense. For instance, why does the whole community receive the memories if the current Receiver leaves? Since people have distinguishing characteristics other than colour, how does making everyone colourblind create sameness?
However, my main gripe with the book is that its portrayal of a dystopia is poorly executed. The community is safe, tight-knit, and free of poverty, conflict and crime. Everyone is healthy and educated and has friends, an agreeable family, and a job they excel at and enjoy. Even though people's jobs, partners and adopted children are chosen by the leaders, it seems as though the leaders' choices are the same choices that they themselves would have made. It's mentioned that community members apply for partners and children, which implies that no one is forced to marry or raise a child. The state-organised murder seems like something the author came up with to ham-handedly persuade readers that the community is in fact bad.
The book mentions other, more harmless practices of the community, which I was probably supposed to interpret as dystopian but didn't. For instance, members take pills to suppress their sexual urges; perhaps I am unhinged for thinking that this would unironically solve many of society's problems. It feeds into the portrayal of the community members as cerebral and pragmatic, which I can't see as a bad thing.
The community also upholds 'precision of language', and members chide each other for hyperbolising, being vague or misusing words. I can't see anything wrong with this either; it's the exact opposite of how language is used in dystopias (e.g. 1984) to control people via ambiguity and euphemisms. (The 'precision of language' concept is contradicted by the community's use of the euphemisms 'release' and 'taken Elsewhere' to refer to euthanasia.) The word 'love' has become obsolete in the community, because it is considered too vague. This actually makes perfect sense to me; I rarely use the word myself, as I am still not sure what people mean by it. Is it attraction? Admiration? Enjoying someone's company? Caring for someone? Loyalty? Intimacy? Something else? More than one of the above? Definitions are varied and context-dependent.
It seems as though most people who have read this book consider it a masterpiece, so I was pleased to discover that at least one guy dislikes it even more than I do, and for similar reasons.