4 out of 5 Stars!
This book has been on my TBR for a while, so I finally picked up a copy at a recent trip to one of our local book stores. For some reason, I never read it in high school (like seemingly every other individual in the world), and with all of the political comparisons to the novel, it seemed a good time to dive in.
The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.
The book was a little bit scary to read. With the ever-present discussion of book banning, growing separation between upper and lower class, censorship within the media, and seeming political strides towards a bovine-like populace… This book held a few too many mirrors to our current societal issues, especially impressive considering it was originally published in 1949.
The novel follows the story of Winston, a member of the Outer Party, essentially a low-class civil servant. Winston’s job is to edit past books, newspaper articles, and other documents to rewrite history according to Big Brother and his political regime of English Socialists, also known as Ingsoc.
Life in Airstrip One (England) in 1984 is abysmal, though not according to propaganda spread by Big Brother. Food and other necessities are scarce, people are forced to work long hours, individuals are under constant surveillance, and the country is always at war, but it is supposedly a time of prosperity in the nation. Although the writing is sometimes dry and moves a bit slow, George Orwell uses a clear, concise, and easy-to-read style to portray this bleak world in horrible clarity.
1984 leads readers on an emotional ride as Winston discovers love in the most unlikely of places and finds the will to fight back against the deceitful principals of Ingsoc. Readers dig into the human psyche, learning more about society as a whole versus the individual consciousness and what a person is willing to lose for freedom. But Big Brother is always watching…
This book has several episodes of violence, including discussion of rape, bludgeoning someone to death, and multiple instances of torture. The world of 1984 makes everyone into an enemy, whether spouse, child, or so-called lover. The concepts in this novel are frightening, yet thought provoking.
Overall, I give this novel 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it for anyone looking to gain bleak insight into politics, society, and the human mind.