$2.99 End-of-the-World eBooks

Google Play is currently having a $2.99 sale on “end-of-the-world reads.” Since I’ve read several of them, here are my recommendations:

Recommended:

Station Eleven
A flu pandemic almost wipes out all of the world’s population. [Review]
Ready Player One
The key to a vast fortune is hidden within an MMO virtual reality simulation. [Review]

Brave New World
An “ideal” society has been created through genetic engineering and brainwashing.
Feed
Network devices implanted in the brains of American consumers are exploited by corporations.
The Handmaid's Tale
Women are subjugated in a totalitarian Christian theocracy. [Review]
1984
The government uses surveillance and propaganda to eliminate independent thinking.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Humanoid androids are also practically indistinguishable from humans. [Review]
The Giver
A community has eliminated emotion, color, and memory in order to eliminate pain. [Review]
 

Not recommended:

Atlas Shrugged
Aggressive regulations cause vital industries to collapse.
Lord of the Flies
A group of boys on an uninhabited island try to govern themselves.

The Giver Quartet

I first read The Giver in elementary school. It was probably my first taste of dystopian fiction and I loved it. When I saw The Giver on a Banned Books Week list last month and learned there were sequels, I decided to reread it, along with the other books in the series.

The Giver

The Giver

Summary: Eleven-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal community where people are content and free from pain and suffering. When Jonas is chosen to be the next Receiver of Memory, he begins to learn the truth about his community.

Review: The Giver explores, among other things, the idea of individuality vs. “sameness.” In Jonas’s community, everyone is content and provided for, but they do not get to make their own decisions, experience true emotions, or even see color. It’s a thought-provoking book that I loved as a kid and I really enjoyed reading again.

Gathering Blue

Gathering Blue

Summary: In a village that sends the weak and disabled out to a field to die, Kira (an orphan girl with a deformed leg) is ostracized by her neighbors. Kira has a special gift, though, that will save her life.

Review: Gathering Blue was my least favorite book in the series. I was disappointed that it had no ties to The Giver until a brief allusion at the end of the book. Kira’s village was not nearly as interesting as Jonas’s community and Kira was too passive a character. I also thought the story was predictable.

Messenger

Messenger

Summary: After living in Village for six years with a blind man named Seer, Matty is eager to earn his true name and become a full member of society. Village is changing, though, and Matty the message-bearer must make one last journey through the treacherous forest before it’s too late.

Review: Picking up where Gathering Blue left off, Messenger tied the two previous books together and I was glad to get some resolution on what happened to Jonas and Gabe. I liked the book, but I was disappointed in the “somebody sacrificing to rid the world of evil and now everything’s magically better again” cliché.

Son

Son

Summary: Claire, a teenage Birthmother from Jonas’s original community, washes ashore in a distant village, remembering nothing of her life before. After watching someone give birth, she regains her memory and becomes determined to find the son she gave birth to years ago.

Review: Son started out strong, but, unfortunately, it went downhill from there. The book really got bogged down with all the time spent on Claire training to climb the cliff out of the village. When Claire finally found her son, I found it unbelievable that she wouldn’t reveal herself to him after spending so many years and risking her life to find him. The ending was also unsatisfying, but at least it tied everything from the series together.

Final Thoughts

I really liked The Giver and would recommend it to anyone, especially since it’s such a quick, easy read. If you’re interested in seeing what happens to the characters, by all means read the rest of the series, but I don’t think it’s necessary to continue reading it.

While writing this review, I found out that a movie version of The Giver is in production, scheduled to be released in August 2014. I’m really curious about how they’re going to film it. If it starts in black and white, the audience will know something is wrong prematurely. If it starts in color, Jonas’s discovery of color won’t be as impactful. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle that. I also wonder how they are going to end the movie, since the book’s ending was ambiguous.