Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review:: Blindness

Blindness by Jose Saramago

I had no idea what I was getting into with this one.  Imagine a pandemic that begins with one person going blind, randomly, while waiting at a stop light.  A strange, white blindness.  Systematically, each person that the man encounters thereafter also goes blind within hours, and everyone they've contacted does as well, and so on.  In the beginning of the epidemic, the newly blind are quarantined in high security facilities, guarded by the military.  New internees begin to trickle in, slowly at first, then in droves, and the victims soon resort to animalistic behaviors for survival.  As the mysterious pathogen infects more and more people, the infrastructure of the country begins to shut down as there are not enough seeing people to maintain the working order of things.  Driving and all major utilities completely shut down.  Eventually, every single soul is blind, save one.  The wife of one of the first men to go blind, the optometrist who treated the first blind man, never lost her vision.  In order to stay with her husband, she feigned blindness and was quarantined with him.  During the span of this mysterious nation-wide affliction, she remained the only sighted person, and through her leadership, the original group of people with which she and her husband were quarantined managed to eek out a meager survival.  Once it became clear that the entire population was blind and that the military sentries were no longer guarding their facility, the group escaped into the city, only to find that complete pandemonium now ruled.  Months passed, and people were starving and dying, filth and petulance were rampant, and animals had gone feral, traveling in vicious packs.  Stores and homes had been ransacked for any scrap of food that was to be found, and dead bodies and cars were abandoned everywhere. 

As I read, I kept trying to imagine the horrors of what was being described.  I was haunted by the fact that, were something similar to happen in real life, the atrocities listed would certainly come to pass, and would quite possibly be much more horrific.  Throughout the entire novel, no one was given a name, and no specifics are given as to a time and location of these events.  Meaning you're left to fill in all of the blanks from your own personal experiences.  Which is that much more terrifying.  I found this book, while hard to read at points, to be an incredible description of human nature...both the good elements and the bad.  I definitely recommend it, if for nothing other than the thoughts it will provoke in you about humanity, hope, and the will to live against all odds.

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