Author: Ray Bradbury
Genre: science fiction, classic, dystopia
“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.”
This 63-year-old classic is definitely not a disappointment. Ray Bradbury has masterfully crafted this novel, using almost more figurative metaphors than words, to create the dystopian setting and story. The first line (above) is considered one of the most interesting first-liners ever, and I think the whole story can also be added to that category.
“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
While it was quite confusing at the start, the language used and the general setting, did start to make sense after a while. With virtual ‘families’ living in the walls of your house, society eats up the words and news that is delivered to them. Little do they know it was just a pretence to get them all doing and thinking the same thing. And the only people that see this for what it really is, are the few outcasts that haven’t already been killed. The main protagonist, Guy Montag, being among them. The only thing that makes him different, is that he is a fireman, doing the exact job that all of them hate. Once he meets one particular person, and sees one particular thing, Montag realises that he is doing the wrong thing, and Fahrenheit 451 is about his struggle to understand society and let other people understand what is really happening.
It is a very interesting book, with a very interesting take on the future of society. The scary thing is, with all the new technology of late, it very nearly could become true. We are starting to rely very heavily on technology, just as the characters in this book do, and if it is taken away from us, we find we can’t function, just as they do as well.
It’s the same with computers becoming ‘smarter’ or more ‘independent’. The earplugs in everyone’s ears in the novel, deliver messages and news to everyone in the city, putting words and thoughts in their mouths and heads, and this doesn’t actually sound too far from the future.
“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
So, while I don’t think I can say that I enjoyed reading it, it certainly wasn’t a bad book, and it really made me think. It is definitely an amazing book, and very well written, with some very important messages.
Why should you read it: I think everyone should read this book, just because it is an important classic that carries a big message behind its words. But, if you’re not one for metaphors, or a dystopian setting, this probably isn’t the most enjoyable book for you.
Rating: I don’t actually think I can rate this one, just because it was so interesting and strange. While I didn’t exactly enjoy it, I don’t think it deserves a low rating, because it is amazingly written and thought out. For a classic, I think I’d have to give it 5 stars, even if I probably wouldn’t read it agin.