I think this book is better approached by an adult than a high school freshman. The philosophical undertones are much more difficult to relate to as a hopeful 14-year-old than a cynical adult. I’m glad I revisited this one.
You have three characters that really matter: Winston, Julia, and O’Brien. None of them are likable – Winston is the perfect vision of a disgruntled middle-aged man; Julia is a sex-crazed, flighty young woman; and O’Brien is a shadowy figure who is utterly deluded. While I don’t expect to like all the characters, it certainly helps to find at least one likable.
The story takes place in London, 1984. The flats have been turned into tenements and Oceania (there are three countries now – Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia) is constantly at war with… someone. Written in 1949, this story certainly gives a chill about what the world could look like 40 years in the future. With the exception of fashion choices (overalls) the world is described well enough to feel real, while leaving much to the reader’s imagination.
The dystopia element of the tale is where the book shines. A successful dystopia chooses one aspect – in this case, freedom – and threatens it to show what a future would look like ifsomething changed this aspect. There is usually a disaster involved (war) and there is usually governmental interference (Big Brother). Winston starts as a traditional “my life sucks” kinda guy, but it’s not the first half of the story that I find impressive. It’s the second half, with the breaking of Winston. I won’t go into too much detail for those who haven’t read it, but the torture techniques are interesting (in a horrifying way) and the lack of happy ending is important. Far too many dystopias have happy endings, and that sort of defies the point.
I don’t mind Orwell’s writing style, which surprised me considering the genre and age of the book. A lot of older science fiction I personally find monotonous, but the balance of detail and directness was perfect and it didn’t drag too terribly. I think the length is perfect – if anything, it could be a little shorter. It feels a bit rushed in places, by retrospectively, I think that pacing works in the situations presented.
I still don’t love this book. I can’t get past how little I like Winston. And Julia. O’Brien is… alright, but overall I feel I need to love at least one character to love the book. I did find the philosophy of the book intriguing, especially with the current state of our country and the fear that’s running rampant… but this book didn’t live up to my expectations. I wanted it to feel revolutionary, but it felt like a small glimpse into a bigger, darker story.
I admit I only read this at first so people would think I was smart but then I really did enjoy it. It was such a terrifying look into a future we all hope will never come to pass.
I finished this not five minutes ago, and I need to vent my frustration. This book is brilliant. You dare to hope for a happy ending, it allows you to hope, and when it destroys you, you have no choice but to love it.
If I could geek out about Newspeak for three seconds: the fact that your experience of the world is entirely dependent upon your absurdly poor ability to express yourself is fascinating. My heart.
It's set in a future that didn't happed, to a degree. We lack some of the overt signs of a dictatorship but sometimes you have to wonder about some of the hidden dictatorships in our world.
It is an exaggeration, it is a moral fable, but it is on some levels very moving. It made me think about restrictions on speech and thought that flows through our modern world. My husband's constant habit of putting the TV on. How much information a lot of countries want to have about us. Stuff that lingers, stuff that makes 1984 scarier day by day.
This was...I don't even know what to say yet. This book definitely challenged my way of thinking. I was right there with Winston throughout the first two sections. I'm a rebel in nature and all of his thoughts and actions seemed normal for me. The third section was what really through me through a loop. I'll leave it up to you to discover for yourself, but it was definitely a book that NEEDS to be read.