1984 is an odd classic. It’s futuristic sci-fi that tells of a date in the future, that is already behind us. But the principles it shows are still valid today, and are worth significant thought. This is the sort of book you can’t really digest in one sitting.
Even so, I finished this book on a six-hour car ride. But even though I didn’t have anything else to read, the book was riveting. George Orwell is a master of writing and he knows his craft well. This book is engaging , but it grips you without resorting to mindless action sequences. By far, this is a thinking book, and more so even than thinking, a rethinking and digesting book.
The story is familiar to many: a totalitarian government that controls even the thoughts of its people. The book centers around Winston, a member of the government Party and a worker who aids in rewriting history. He begins to have counter-revolutionary thoughts and these lead him to a secret lifestyle that he seeks to hide even from the far-reaching government. He discovers a lover, Julia, and together they escape the government and they defy it by their illicit love affair. But eventually, they are discovered, and both taken to prison. There, the Party and Big Brother seek to rewrite their thoughts, before they kill them for disloyalty.
It’s obvious why this is a thinking book. There are deep ideas presented in this book that take time to understand. This is an adult book, and not just because of the sex it freely presents between Julia and Winston (which is not even explicitly shown, but rather factually presented).
This is a book which must be read with caution, because it presents deep ideas that deserve a second look. There is salvation and redemption here — or is it damnation and condemnation that are presented? There is the government which foully proves humanity’s depraved nature as it seeks to prolong warfare — or is it a welcoming overlord that saves people from themselves? The ending scene in the book reads almost like salvation, yet it is the account of a character who has given in and is shortly going to be killed. Just as the government in the book deals in many seeming contradictions — double-think, it’s called — so the book itself contains many seeming contradictions. It’s a book that will get you thinking, if only to understand it. 1984 is a book rightfully regarded as a classic, and it makes bold claims about human nature, life, and religion.
I can neither recommend nor not recommend this book. It’s marked as not recommended, only because I prescribe caution. This is a book that deals with deep ideas, and needs to be treated as such. It’s not possible to read 1984 merely for entertainment (it isn’t with any book, really). Just as the telescreens in 1984 are always on, influencing the citizens, so will this book influence you unsuspectingly, if you do not read it carefully.
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