Lets face it dystopian fiction can be a bit depressing. It can be full of violence and other emotionally disturbing things. But it can also bring attention to societal problems that can become catastrophic in the future. One example would be the quest for sameness. TheGiver by Lois Lowry explores the consequences of this quest. The society created by Lowry has sought sameness and in that has lost the individual. There are only two in the society that are even aware of what they are missing, The Giver and The Receiver of Memory , Jonas. They alone are responsible for storing the worlds’ memories, a great honor and heavy curse, Too heavy for only two to carry. Eventually Jonas will be the only one with the memories, when his training is complete. Each day of his training Jonas learns more and more and sees that this world they have created for themselves is wrong. The last straw is when he discovers what the releasing ceremony really is. This is were he and The Giver make a plan to release the memories at least the one that Jonas has received so far. This will force the society to be reintroduced to feelings. But like most plans there are a few road blocks lying ahead…..
There are some very graphic parts in this novel, such as, a memory of war that is given to Jonas. It is very detailed but not too lengthy. Also the part where Jonas finds out about the release ceremony is a bit disturbing There are others, but I feel that it is appropriate for 12 and up maybe 11. It could be read younger but I really don’t feel that it would be fully appreciated or comprehend (for the most part).The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a great read but you do feel a bit guilty for liking it. The guilt comes because it is about the society in power (The Capital) that chooses to exhibit their control over the districts by holding The Hunger Games were kids are sent to kill kids and their families and communities are forced to watch it. The satisfaction of the story comes from the strength and courage of the main character Katniss, who in an act of love and self sacrifice volunteers to go in her little sisters place when her name is drawn for the games. There are graphic parts in this book, such as, the description of Glimmer being stung repeatedly by tracker jackers and a scene where an ally dies. Because this book is more graphic or at least graphic more consistently throughout the book I would put the age range more at 13 or 14.
I only suggest an age limit in hopes of encouraging tweens to enjoy their childhood while they can, it doesn’t last long and they always seem so eager to be done with it; I know I was. If they want to read this type of fiction earlier I wouldn’t stop them but I would encourage some happier reading in between this type of fiction just to keep things from getting to depressing. A lot can be learned form dystopian fiction there here to serve as warnings, so they have a place, but like all things moderation is key.