I haven't checked in my OED but I believe the word \”prequel\” is a fairly recent invention. Sequel: this is a word we all know. Sequels have been around quite a long time; I've even written several, over the years.

But suddenly I'm hearing the term \”prequel\” from readers.

In 1993, I wrote a book called The Giver which was intended for a audience, for readers maybe 10-14 years old. Its almost immediate success took me unexpectedly. Set in the somewhat distant future, it depicted a global that had gone awry and be devoid of empathy or compassion, a world in which individual human lives had little value. I had thought of it as a fairly straightforward adventure story.

But young adults didn't read it quickly and proceed to the next thing, the way they often do. They found something in the book that resonated at the same time it puzzled them. How had that happened? they asked me-first in letters, now in emails. What went wrong? How are we able to keep this from happening?

I've given them simplistic answers. Verbal shrugs. It might have been gradual, I said excitedly. It would have involved small compromises.

In order to be safe . . . we'll give up this small freedom.
In to be comfortable . . . we'll sacrifice this.

I believed that perhaps the book might be a teaching vehicle, a cautionary tale. Choices important, I told kids. You'll be the ones to vote, in the future. Be aware of what you're voting for-or against. Weigh the options. Consider the implications, the compromises. You shouldn't be silenced. Don't let your humanity be nibbled away.

Open your vision, I told them, the way Jonas, the 12-year-old protagonist, does within the story. Become aware.

In their own dwelling, there were the necessary reference volumes that each household contained: a dictionary, and also the thick community volume which contained descriptions of every office, factory, building, and committee. And also the Book of Rules, obviously.

The books in his own dwelling were the only real books that Jonas had seen. He had never known that other books existed.

The boy resides in a world with no literature, no history. How did this happen? readers asked me.

In April 2021, a school board within an Alaskan borough voted to remove five classic books from the school curriculum. Inappropriate content, i was told that.

Dear Reader: That's how.

The boy in the book discovers, suddenly, that the solemn ceremony-a toast, an anthem, a goodbye speech-celebrating seniors before they are taken though a unique door of the Releasing Room is a disguise for something more sinister:

Jonas stared at him. \”Release is definitely like that? For people who break the guidelines three times? For the Old? Do they get rid of the Old, too?\”

Young readers asked me: Don't they care? When did they stop caring? How could they . . . ?

Recently our president, despite the prediction by scientists that many more people, thousands of them, mostly elderly, will die within the coming months as a result, urged that restrictions intended to mitigate the pandemic be lifted quickly. On March 9, he said in a tweet:

So last year 37,000 Americans died in the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on.

Dear Reader: That's how.

There aren't any newspapers in the fictional world of The Giver. No television, no radio. Readers asked me: How do they find out stuff? How can they know what's going on?

On October 29, 2021, Donald Trump tweeted:

There is great anger in our Country caused partly by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting from the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must steer clear of the open & obvious hostility & report this news accurately & fairly. That will do much to place out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we'll then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!

The short answer, Dear Reader, is: they don't. Somehow the free press, the exchange of ideas, the dispersal of information-all of this was gradually gnawed away.

Would you desire write a prequel to The Giver so we could find out how all that happened?

Dear Reader: guess what. You don't need a prequel. You're living in one.


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