25. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow, 192 pages, read by Angie, on 03/24/2015

Typhoid seems like one of those diseases people used to have back in the old days when there wasn’t any antibiotics or good sanitation. It sort of is, but it still exists today. Fatal Fever is the story of typhoid in the early 1900s in New York. New York was not like it is today. There were outhouses and cesspits and raw sewage in the streets. It was very likely you would come in contact with typhoid at some point in your life. This book chronicles the story of Mary Mallon, otherwise known as Typhoid Mary. It is also the story of George Soper and how he tracked down Mary. Mary was a cook for prominent New York families. Soper’s investigation led him from family to family and from typhoid case to typhoid case. Mary was something unknown at that time: a carrier of typhoid who was not herself sick. She spread the disease through the food she handled and served to her employers. Soper and his associates finally caught up with Mary and had her tested. She was then confined to North Brother Island. Mary was never charged with anything or put on trial. She was confined by the Department of Health because she was considered a health risk. She never believed that she infected people with typhoid or that she was a carrier. She fought against her confinement for years. After she was finally let go, you would think she learned her lesson but you would be wrong. She again infected a family with typhoid and was again sent to North Brother Island where she spent the rest of her life.

Gail Jarrow is one of those authors that I am starting to look for. I really enjoyed her book Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat and equally enjoyed this one. This book reads like a detective story with Soper as the detective and Mary as the villain. There are lots of details about typhoid and sanitation in the 1900s, but you kind of forget how educational the books is. You are just reading it for the pure enjoyment and fascination of it.

25. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Paula, Thriller/Suspense

The Girl On The Train by Hawkins, Paula, 323 pages, read by Paula, on 03/24/2015

hw7.plRachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

I loved this book.  I couldn’t put it down.  Rachel is such a believable character.  She is an alcoholic.  And on the night Megan goes missing she’s drunk.  She knows she’s seen something.  But she can’t remember what.  Lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing right up until the end.

 

24. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Humor, NonFiction

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris, David Javerbaum, Antony Hare (Illustrator), 304 pages, read by Angie, on 03/23/2015

Neil Patrick Harris is at this point unstoppable. His newest venture is his Choose Your Own Autobiography and it is HILARIOUS! It is set up just like the old choose your own adventure books from my childhood and it works. It also works really well just as a book to read straight through (which is what I did). Neil chronicles his life from childhood to present day in an honest, insightful and funny way. He pulls no punches about himself or those around him. I was especially touched by his personal journey to discover his sexual identity. He is honest about how he dated girls but wasn’t that into it, about his first gay experiences and about finding love with his husband David. I laughed out loud when he was talking about his escapades with LA nightlife in his youth and how outrageous it is to be friends with Elton John. The Choose Your Own Autobiography set up allows you to make terrible choices with Neil’s life which ended up with him as a sandwich maker at Schlotzky’s Deli or in a horrible death scene. I also really enjoyed the letters from his friends like Sarah Silverman, Nathan Fillion, Penn Jillette, Seth MacFarlane and many others. They were sometimes touching, sometimes funny, often bizarre, but always perfect. I started my journey with NPH during his Doogie Howser days when he was one of my favorite teen heartthrobs. I rediscovered him as Dr. Horrible and have loved him ever since. He is very talented and funny, but above all seems to be a genuine good guy who deserves all the accolades he gets. His autobiography is definitely worth the read for fans and nonfans, plus it has magic tricks!

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, 333 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/04/2015

station eleven  This novel set in the future explores what life would be like for the survivors of a world-wide pandemic. Part of the story takes place in the characters past when the illness was just starting, part takes place in their current time and other sections take place in the characters memories of their own past. This may sound confusing but the writing and the way the chapters are organized makes the story flow smoothly. The survivors past lives interconnect in an interesting way and the inclusion of a story within the story set in a graphic novel is unique as well. The novel explores the different ways people react to the same circumstances and how their decisions affect all those around them.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Humor, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

Off the Leash: The Secret Life of Dogs by Rupert Fawcett , 158 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/10/2015

off the leash  Collection of cartoons originally published on Facebook. Rupert Fawcett’s cartoons have developed into a daily online comic.This collection features the secret thoughts and conversations of dogs of every size, shape and breed. This collection will appeal to pet owners and those who just wish they owned a pet.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Humor, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Texts from Dog by October Jones, 100 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/08/2015

texts from dog  Author October Jones shares the text between him and his pet bulldog. His endearing Dog and his alter-ego Batdog were born. Texts from Dog features his attempts to keep the neighborhood safe from the enemy otherwise known as the Postman. Stories about his arch-enemy Cat-Cat are also included. Some stories are laugh out loud funny. However, keep in mind that these texts are between two young adult males (one human, one dog) about whatever it is they are thinking. Not child friendly humor.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee, 336 pages, read by Kira, on 03/22/2015

Cover-Carousel-SunThe second book in the Carousel saga.  Though the stakes aren’t as high as in the last novel, I still found this a very enjoyable read.  2270482292_d35dac85e7_z 'Swamp Dweller' merman painting, Jade GengcoKate’s bad neighbor is still running drugs, and seems to have found another Ozali to help him evade the police.  One of the things I like about Sharon Lee’s writing is that she doesn’t spell things out for you, you have to figure things out on your own.  I finally  Scenics_coastal_waters_and_landmassrealized what had become of the bat-winged horse – though the clues had all been there in the previous book.  I also love the way Kate needs to assert herself, if she wants things to develop between her and Borgan.  I’m waiting to see what happens to the other escaped carousel animals in her next book – Carousel Seas.SeaWitch4  Lee also manages to capture the magic of riding a carousel.dragon_0011d39076ffdcd3feb85e89ebbab63c5c7Wild-Cats-Carousel-947741Carousel-4

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction · Tags:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, 531 pages, read by Angie, on 03/21/2015

My mom recommended this book to me and I am so glad I finally read it. It is a powerful story, told beautifully. It is a story of love and loss and survival and death. It is the story of two children coming of age during WWII. Marie-Laure is a beloved daughter of a Paris museum locksmith. She has grown up surrounded by the museum and all its treasures. When she goes blind her father builds a replica of their neighborhood so she can find her way around. He also spoils her with little puzzles and treasures. Warner is an orphan living in a children’s home in a mining town in Germany. He is mechanically brilliant, building a radio from scratch and repairing things in the town. He fears being sent to work in the mines and dying like his father. He is protective of his younger sister Jutta, but doesn’t really know how to help them. When he is given the opportunity to attend a Nazi technical school he jumps at the chance. School is a lot more brutal than he thought it would be, but he finds a way to survive.

Marie-Laure and Warner’s stories are told alternatively through their childhood and the present day at the end of the war. They both end up in Saint-Malo on the French coast. Marie-Laure and her father have fled Paris ahead of the Nazi occupation and taken up residence with her great uncle Etienne. Her uncle was traumatized by WWI and doesn’t leave the house; he suffers bouts of PTSD that leave him hiding in his room for days. Marie-Laure’s father again builds a model of the neighborhood so she can find her way about, but then he disappears. Warner has become part of a radio unit that hunts down insurgents. Their quest has led them to Saint-Malo. Little does he know that the radio broadcasts giving out information to the French resistance is the same one he listened to as a child on his homemade radio. Etienne has again taken to the airwaves after being convinced by his housekeeper to join the fight. Warner is intrigued by the blind girl he sees coming out of the house and finds himself protective of her and Etienne. Their stories intersect during the last days in Saint-Malo as it is being bombed by the Allies.

Interspersed with all of this is the story of the Sea of Flames, a singular blue diamond with a heart of fire. It has traveled the world before ending up in the Paris museum. It is said to be cursed, offering immortality to its bearer but death to all those you love. Marie-Laure’s father was entrusted with its safe keeping when he fled Paris. A Nazi officer has been pursuing it across France as he also evaluates other jewels confiscated by the Nazis. He is dying and is determined to get the jewel in the hopes of saving his life. His search leads him right to the door of Marie-Laure.

I loved this book and really had a hard time putting it down. It is beautifully written and Marie-Laure and Warner came alive on the page. I couldn’t wait to see how their stories would finally intersect. This book really brought out the lives of ordinary people in the war. Even though Marie-Laure and Warner are extraordinary in their own ways, there stories are ones shared by others during that time. They are doing what they can to survive and remain themselves. I thought the ending was perfect. It wasn’t a happy ending, yet it was in many ways. This book is definitely worthy of all the praise that has been heaped upon it.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags: , ,

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, 279 pages, read by Angie, on 03/20/2015

Lucky Linderman isn’t lucky at all. When his grandma died she asked him to find his grandpa. Problem is grandpa was a POW in Vietnam and never came home. Lucky has been dreaming about rescue missions to save his grandpa ever since. Lucky is also being bullied by a horrible kid named Nadar McMillan. Nadar is one of those kids that every kid knows to avoid, but all the adults love. It doesn’t help that his father is a sue-happy lawyer. Nadar started bullying Lucky by peeing on his shoes when he was seven and hasn’t stopped. Lucky’s parents know he is being bullied, but can’t seem to find the energy or the drive to do something about it. His dad is a chef, works all the time and only wants to talk food when he is home. Dad has been so traumatized by growing up without a dad that he can’t seem to become one himself. Mom spends all her time in the pool swimming laps to avoid her unhappy marriage and her unhappy child.

It is not until Nadar physically harms Lucky so that others can see that mom finally does something. She doesn’t call the police or Nadar’s father; she takes Lucky and leaves. They head to Arizona and her brother’s house (mainly because it has a pool). Things seem to be looking up there. Lucky is bonding with his uncle and lifting weights and he meets a girl who helps build up his confidence in himself. Only problem is that the aunt is CRAZY. She is positive Lucky is suicidal and keeps wanting to help him in her own inept way. In Arizona Lucky learns some truths about himself and his family and starts to gain the confidence he needs to stand up to Nadar.

This is a book that might not be for everyone, but if you stick with it you are going to be rewarded. A.S. King always seems to write about the misfit characters who come into their own in her books. Like her other characters, Lucky is a real kid with real problems. He is picked on and bullied and misunderstood. Sure he dreams about rescuing his grandpa from the jungle prisons of Vietnam and sure he has a chorus of ants who offer commentary on his life, but that doesn’t make him crazy. In fact, the dreams and the ants help him work through what is going on around him. The ants offer a bit of light-heartedness to an otherwise fairly dark story.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance

Stepbrother untouchable by Colleen Masters, 188 pages, read by Melody, on 03/22/2015

Calling Nate Thornhill a rich, cocky, arrogant asshole would be an understatement.

He also happens to be stunningly handsome, popular, intelligent, and captain of both the Crew and Lacrosse teams at UVA. I hate him for thinking he’s untouchable—not because he’s a narcissistic, privileged, borderline-misogynistic heartbreaker—but because he’s right.

His first words to me were at a Crew House party, and he literally invited me to have a threesome with him and a random girl. I could’ve died from the embarrassment, he didn’t even know my name at the time, and he didn’t care to. After that night, I promised myself to never waste another second thinking about Nate Thornhilll.

My world becomes a nightmare when I realize my mom’s new husband Pierce has a son who’s my age…and he’s a junior at UVA too. I can’t believe my eyes when Nate walks over and sits down next to us at dinner, introducing himself like he’s never seen me before in his life.

Then I feel his hand on my thigh, underneath the tablecloth with our parents sitting across from us, inching closer and closer to my panties. My mind goes fuzzy, my heart starts racing, and my body does exactly what I don’t want it to do.

And then they hit me with the worst news of all…

Pierce has an internship lined up for me at his firm, and we’re going to live at his Eastern Shore mansion for the summer.

I’ll be sleeping down the hall from my new stepbrother…arguing with him at every breakfast, sitting across from him at every dinner, watching as he brings an endless string of girls back to his room…secretly wishing I was one of them.

Stepbrother Untouchable is a Stand-alone novel. It contains adult themes, harsh language, and graphic sexual content.

From Goodreads.com.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Slow burn by Julie Garwood, 424 pages, read by Kim K, on 03/22/2015

Every fire begins with a little heat–and in Slow Burn, bestselling author Julie Garwood provides the spark, skillfully blending pulse-pounding action, intense emotion, and characters with grit and heart. The result is an electrifying novel of romantic suspense that will have readers burning through the pages.

An unpretentious beauty who radiates kindness, Kate MacKenna doesn’t have a bad bone in her body–or an enemy in the world. So why are bombs igniting everywhere she goes? The first explosion brings her face-to-face with a handsome Charleston police detective. The second sends her into the arms of her best friend’s brother–a Boston cop who’s a little too reckless and way too charming for comfort. But Dylan Buchanan won’t let emotion prevent him from doing his job: Someone is trying to kill Kate, and Dylan is the only one standing between her and the monster who wants her dead.

From Goodreads.com

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Someone like her by Sandra Owens , 293 pages, read by Melody, on 03/21/2015

Known to the K2 Special Services team as Romeo, ex-Navy SEAL Jake Buchanan may spend his downtime living up to his nickname, but there’s one woman who sets his heart racing like no one else can: Maria Kincaid. Unfortunately, his boss – her brother – has made it crystal clear that she’s off-limits. Jake doesn’t do commitment, while Maria is the type of woman who deserves a promise of forever. Yet Maria finds herself drawn to Jake, the man who stares at her with a desire she wishes he’d act on.

Still haunted by her horrific childhood, Maria goes searching for the father she’s never met and stumbles into a nightmarish experience. With her life in grave danger, she reaches out to Jake, her brother’s second-in-command. Jake figures he can help Maria without giving in to temptation. But some things are easier said than done.

From Goodreads.com.

23. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Murder list by Julie Garwood, 425 pages, read by Kim K, on 03/20/2015

When Chicago detective Alec Buchanan is offered a prime position with the FBI, it is the perfect opportunity to leave the Windy City and follow in his brothers’ footsteps to the top echelons of law enforcement. But first he must complete one last assignment (and one that he is not too happy about): acting as a glorified bodyguard to hotel heiress Regan Hamilton Madison. The gorgeous exec has become entangled in some potentially deadly business. Someone has e-mailed her a graphic crime-scene photo-and the victim is no stranger.

Regan suspects that the trouble started when she agreed to help a journalist friend expose a shady self-help guru who preys on lonely, vulnerable women. In fact, the smooth-as-an-oil-slick Dr. Lawrence Shields may be responsible for the death of one of his devotees, which was ruled a suicide. Hoping to find some damning evidence, Regan attends a Shields seminar.

At the gathering, the doctor persuades his guests to partake in an innocent little “cleansing” exercise. He asks them to make a list of the people who have hurt or deceived them over the years, posing the question: “Would your world be a better place if these people ceased to exist?” Treating the exercise as a game, Regan plays along. After ten minutes, Shields instructs the participants to bring their sheets of paper to the fireplace and throw them into the flames. But Regan misses this part of the program when she exits the room to take a call-and barely escapes a menacing individual in the parking lot.

The experience is all but forgotten-until the first person on Regan’s list turns up dead. Shock turns to horror when other bodies from the list start to surface, as a harrowing tango of desire and death is set into motion. Now brutal murders seem to stalk her every move-and a growing attraction to Alec may compromise her safety, while stirring up tender emotions she thought she could no longer feel. Yet as the danger intensifies and a serial killer circles ever closer, Regan must discover who has turned her private revenge fantasies into grisly reality.

“From the Hardcover edition.”

22. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah, Mystery

Small Favor by Jim Butcher, 423 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/22/2015

I am already a fan of Jim Butcher’s writing, and Small Favor is one of the even better stories. The wizard for hire, Harry Dresden, is caught up in a fast-paced adventure from the very first pages. Fae from the court of the Summer Queen begin attacking Harry while he is training his apprentice. Though it is unclear why Summer Fae are after his blood, Harry has upset enough of the Summer royalty to make some pretty good guesses. The Winter Queen appears to be helping the harassed wizard, but her help comes unsolicited and at a very high price. This is all a sideline to the main plot and problem of the tale. Fallen angels, known as Denarians, have come up with a plan that may make it possible for them to bring about the destruction of the world. By kidnapping a little girl known as the Archive, who is receptacle of all written knowledge, the Denarians would be able to wreak massive damage. Harry Dresden must evade the wrath of the Summer Court, neutralize the “help” of the Winter Court, and fight a handful of fallen angels with god-like powers.

Small Favor is book #10 in the series the Dresden Files. Each book in this series has its own plot arc and resolves by the end. However, the characters are well written, well developed, and return in most books. The familiar characters and plot elements which cause character growth make it more enjoyable to read the books in order. I would recommend the Dresden Files to any fantasy reader. Butcher uses tried and true fantasy creatures and adds in new ideas, also. He also has a nice mesh of fantasy and modern crime, since the main character works as a detective specializing in missing items. I would caution, though, that the first book has a very slow start. The series is worthwhile if given a chance.

21. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mariah, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Doll Bones by Holly Black, 244 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/19/2015

Three friends, Zack, Alice, and Poppy, play an imaginary game that seems to have all the best elements of fantasy. Making their own rules and using action figures, they write adventures that span weeks, months, and years. However, when Zack’s fathers decides Zack is too old for games with girls and dolls, everything changes. Zack is so angry and hurt that he handles the matter by refusing to deal with it. He tells Alice and Poppy that he no longer wishes to play their pretend epics and shuts himself off. The girls are hurt and bewildered. Then, late one night, Poppy and Alice show up at Zack’s window. Poppy has been suffering from evil dreams in which one of the dolls visits her. The doll, known as the Queen, claims she was made from the bones of a murdered child, and she will not leave them in peace until they bury her body in the proper place. Not knowing whether they really believe, the children set off on a dangerous adventure.

Children’s horror is not an overly populated genre, but Holly Black enters it with style and skill. The tale picks up quickly and keeps pace throughout the book. Revelations regarding the nature of the children’s changing relationships are woven seamlessly throughout the drama of being terrorized by a ghost. Dealing with the changes of life and maturity can be almost as frightening as supernatural events. In the end, the book was never too scary, too ridiculous, or too boring. I would recommend it to an older child, probably around middle school, who enjoys horror.

20. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Jessica, Romance

Pocketful Of Sand by M. Leighton, 318 pages, read by Jessica, on 03/20/2015

81nN7kO2EWL._SL1500_“She’s beauty for my ashes. And I’m hope for her heartache.”—Cole Danzer.

I don’t know what makes a great love story. Is it that instant attraction when boy meets girl? The passionate kisses and the fairy-tale ending? Or is it a lifetime of tragedy, paid in advance, for a few stolen moments of pure bliss? The pain and the suffering that, in the end, you can say are worth it for having found the missing piece of your soul?

The answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know what makes a great love story. I only know what makes my love story. I only know that finding Cole when I did, when Emmy and I were running from a nightmare, was the only thing that saved me. That saved us. He was more broken than I was, but somehow we took each other’s shattered pieces and made a whole. If that is what makes a great love story, if that is what makes an epic romance, then mine…ours is the greatest of them all.

20. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer, 195 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/17/2015

annihilation  Book one of a trilogy. Annihilation is set in Area X. An area cut off from the rest of the continent for decades that has been reclaimed by nature. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

Now the twelfth expedition is entering Area X. This group is made up of four women, an anthropologist, surveyor, psychologist a biologist. The biologist is our narrator and the psychologist is the leader of the group. Their mission is to map the terrain, collect specimens, record all their observations of their surroundings and one another. And most importantly avoid being contaminated by Area X and watch for signs of contamination in others.

This mystery/adventure story is wonderfully written. The text moves you along quickly and pulls you right into the world of Area X. It is different to read a whole novel and never learn the characters names or much about what they look like. This first book brings up lots and lots of questions. I checked with other staff who have finished the trilogy and some questions are answered but not a lot. If you can enjoy reading for the way it is written and pondering about the mysterious of life and our universe then this is for you. If you need solid answers by the end of the series, skip this one.

 

20. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Business, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

What If?: Short Stories to Spark Diversity Dialogue by Steve L. Robbins, 182 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/09/2015

what if  Corporate speaker Steve L. Robbins using examples from his own life including his children as a minority to assist companies large and small to increase diversity in the workplace. His stories and follow-up questions can also help individuals to look at the world from a different perspective than they may have ever experienced.
What If? also presents specific ideas of what organizations can do to engage our global world, build core competencies in diversity and inclusion, and benefit from the best talent available – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, race, or disability. Thought-provoking short essays to inspire a better workplace and perhaps to inspire the reader to be a better member of our increasingly global society.

20. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Mystery, Tammy, Teen Books

Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers, 392 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/06/2015

inherit midnight   Seventeen-year-old Avery has been sent to a boarding school by her outlandishly wealthy Grandmother who has raised her. She is the ostracized illegitimate granddaughter of a drunk son and has no love for her cousins or uncles. She rarely sees her father. Now her Grandmother has set up a competition to see who deserves to inherit the entire VanDemere fortune. It’s family member against family member as they race around the globe and solve puzzles from the mines of Venezuela to the castles of Scotland. Since she is under 18 Avery has to be accompanied by an adult. Riley the son of her Grandmother’s lawyer goes along. But is her to help her or just protect his father’s interests at staying employed by Grandma. Is she falling in love with him and further complicating things? If Avery loses she knows she’ll have to go back to the horrible boarding school but is that motivation enough to get her through all the challenges? Who will the one and only heir be? Who can Avery truly trust? And is winning worth her life?

19. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Award Winner, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction · Tags:

The Giver by Lois Lowry, 179 pages, read by Angie, on 03/18/2015

It seems that utopian societies always have a dark side. The community in The Giver is no different; the perfect society is balanced by an absence of so many things – colors, feelings, choice. Jonas discovers this absence when he becomes the new Receiver of Memories. In this capacity he learns what really happens in his community and he finds that he can’t live with it. He has to make changes to his circumstances.

This is a really interesting book and a great book for discussions. There is the sameness of the community, the regimented lives of the citizens, the lack of choice in everything they do and the release of people from the community. I thought Jonas’s story was one many could relate to; he really grew up and into himself in the book. He learned to think and act for himself and as an adult.

I did find that when I finished the book I wanted to know more though. I wanted to know how they created the sameness — do they genetically engineer all the people to be color blind? The colors are still there obviously but the people just don’t see them. How did they get rid of the weather, the sun, the hills, the animals? I assume they have climate control, but they aren’t under a dome or anything so how does it work? How did the Receiver of Memories gather all the memories in the first place? They seem to be from many different people and places and times and at least one seemed to come from an animal (the elephant). How are they gathered and stored and tied to the community? Jonas looses them so they are obviously tied to a place. Lots of unanswered questions!

The ending is also very ambiguous and left a lot of questions. Was it real? Did he live or die? How will the community deal with the memories? Will the Giver be able to help them? Will the community change? And should the community change? Even with all the sameness and lack of choice was the community bad? Is release bad?