Published by Ballantine Books on October 1, 1953
Genres: Fiction, Classics, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Format: Print, Paperback
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.
The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.
Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which, decades on from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.
I’m sure most people have heard of this book; it’s considered a classic and it’s probably taught in schools. This kind of made me shy away from reading at first. I thought it was going to be a difficult read because it was a classic. It was also compared to Brave New World, which I read in high school and didn’t really enjoy (it may be time to give that one another read, though). Eventually, I saw this book on booktube, and I finally looked up what it was about, to refresh my memory, and it sounded completely amazing. So, I gave it a try.
At first, I found Bradbury’s writing style a little bit difficult to get into. He describes things in kind of an odd way. In some sections, it wasn’t entirely clear what was going on. Once I kept reading, I got used to his writing. It was eerie reading it in 2016, and thinking about how a future like the one imagined by Bradbury is entirely plausible. People are constantly watching television and interacting with actors inside their television sets, which take up the entirety of the four walls in their parlor. No one is allowed to think for themselves; the media forces all the people into a group think. Books are banned because they promote individual thought. Montag’s wife, Mildred, is described as both alive and dead; she has no original thought (and is therefore dead), but she is still a living being. I found that really clever.
Bradbury’s writing definitely makes the reader think. One of my favourite passages talks about the things that are needed for original thought to occur: “Number one: quality of information. Number Two: leisure to digest it. Number Three: the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.” I found that this passage was the one that made me think about the way our society is today. While there were some beautiful passages that I really enjoyed, I found the character development to be a bit lacking.
I found it difficult to connect to his characters. Most of the characters involved in the story don’t have a lot of original thought, which also means they don’t have much personality. You’re not supposed to connect with them. This is obviously intentional, and I understand why Bradbury wrote the characters that way, but it still kind of lessened my enjoyment of the story a little; I wasn’t always wanting to pick it back up and find out what was happening. I think the character I enjoyed most besides Montag was Clarisse McClellan, a 17 year old girl who lives next door to Montag. She is one of the only people who really thinks for herself. I have heard from other reviews that Clarisse is only there to be the “manic pixie dream girl,” which I do agree with, because she kind of just disappears after she serves her purpose in making Montag think about his life. However, I still enjoyed reading about her. By the end of the book there is definitely some character development with Montag, which made me a lot more interested in the story.
The last half of the book was where the action really started to happen, and I definitely enjoyed it a lot more. I wasn’t surprised with the outcome of the story; I had kind of expected what would happen with Montag. Despite the fact that it was a bit predictable, the action was enough to keep me turning the pages.
Overall, I really enjoyed this, aside from the issue with the writing in the beginning. It was a really enlightening read when you think about the way that we are all so reliant on technology now. I think this is definitely one book everyone should read. It’s important and not to forget about the simpler things in life. I definitely want to check out Bradbury’s other work.
Let me know if you’ve read this book, or if you’re interested in reading it. Also, if you’d like to purchase this book, feel free to do so through my Book Depository affiliate link here.