Book Review: 1984, by George Orwell

March 16, 2010


1984.  An unforgettable tale of a man plagued by his own intellect in a world where free thought is the most heinous crime.  I’m not particularly familiar with Orwellian works, but reading 1984 certainly makes me want to become more so.

Short synopsis:  The story of 1984 follows a man named Winston Smith, a citizen and member of the Party in Oceania, a government strikingly similar to Alan Moore’s creation in V for Vendetta, and one of the three powers of the world.  In a society where the highest value is to blindly follow and love Big Brother, even to the point of willfully (though simultaneously unconsciously) altering the truth, Winston finds his own mind constantly antagonistic toward all things concerning the Party.  As his consciousness of the deranged system of the world expands, so does the risk of his being erased from existence (literally).  Throughout, Winston faces tremendous trials, both internal and external, culminating ultimately in a climax that quite literally had me jittering in apprehension and excitement, and has left me with no choice but to ponder the nature of humanity and of myself.

Basic thoughts, opinions, reflections and ideas:  As a story, 1984 is very well done; for only having three or four actual big time characters, it is remarkably engaging–Orwell does a phenomenal job of progressing the story, even when focusing on the internal conflict of one man rather than any kind of external conflict.  And Orwell’s use of language and ability to challenge and engage the mind are never faltering–it is clear that he was no simpleton.  There are parts of the story that are (perhaps unfortunately) slow and dry and took my a while to get through, but as I tend to value the slow progression of a story over constant excitement for the sake of “entertainment,” I found this attribute quite tolerable.  As for the story itself, it is no children’s bedtime story; it is dark and scary (perhaps “haunting” is a good word).  This fearfulness is often enhanced by how much Orwell draws the reader into introspective reflection on himself and his view of the world, and the idea that man can be a very frightening thing.  All in all, 1984 is definitely worth a read, although someone who wants a light/easy/fun read would probably find it difficult to get through and would very likely find the darkness of Orwell not satisfying.  Was it one of my favorite books I’ve ever read?  Mmm…I’d be hard pressed to say yes to that; but am I glad I did?  Hell yeah.


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