Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Break Book Three: 1984

                First of all, merry Christmas! I am pleased to report that, despite the unfortunate warm weather and resulting lack of snow, it has been yet another lovely holiday.
                This book, however, is completely unrelated to Christmas.
                George Orwell’s celebrated novel 1984 is the story of a future world (future from the year 1949, at least, when the book was first published) that has been stripped of nearly every form of privacy. The main character, Winston, is a government employee who, despite his indoctrination, realizes something is wrong with the way his world functions.
                Not far into the story, Winston meets Julia, who is just as fed up with the way the government constantly monitors their lives. They soon begin a romantic relationship. When I got to this point in the book, I did a little mental eye-roll. Pretty much every book with two main characters, one male and one female, regardless of their situation and regardless of their age, involves them getting together at some point. And yeah, I know that attracts an entire new group of readers, but it’s cliché.
                Otherwise, though, Orwell has done an excellent job depicting this dystopian society, especially in the book’s last third. Though it’s darker, sadder, and far more foreboding, I was much more intrigued by that last portion than the rest of the novel, and a little frightened at some of the close similarities our society bears to the one Orwell has imagined.
                Pros:  Dystopian novels all have one thing in common:  an uncanny ability to make readers aware of problems in their own society. 1984 is among the best dystopian novels, and it definitely has that effect.
                Cons:  The entire Winston-Julia love thing is completely unnecessary, in my opinion. It accomplishes what I think Orwell’s purpose for it must have been (showing that society was leaning toward eliminating a sense of privacy in relationships), but that purpose was far less important, in my opinion, than the whole “make sure you know if the government is controlling your life” issue.
                Conclusion:  I definitely recommend this book. Aside from the excessive focus on you-know-what, it really is a fantastic read. Big Brother is watching you....
                Next up:  Gordon MacDonald’s Going Deep.

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