Published by New American Library on July 1st 1950
Genres: Classics, Science Fiction
The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell's prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of "negative utopia" -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel's hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.
George Orwell’s 1984 is set in a dystopian themed England. The new society is in a state of war and the entire population is controlled through an elaborate system of fear and brainwashing. In spite of all this, one man begins to question the world around him, and the many “truths” that he has been told over his lifetime. This seed of doubt begins to grow, and leads him on a search to discover his own truths. He knows this is dangerous, but still feels compelled to continue his quest, despite the fact that even thinking something different from the governing party in this society is a crime punishable by death.
I’m sure that this won’t come as a big surprise for anyone who has heard anything about this classic, but the sheer amount of information to reflect on in this book is astonishing. For a person who wonders “what if a government decided to completely enslave its people, not just in body but also in mind,” there is plenty of information to satisfy your curiosity and get the wheels of your brain turning. It really makes you think and question not just the events in the book, but also in the real world around you.
One of the things I did not enjoy about 1984, was that the story and setting were backwards compared to most books we read. In a typical book the setting is used to enhance and give support to the story. In 1984 however, the only purpose to the story is to aid the reader in getting a better picture of the setting. Most of what goes though the mind of the main character and the events that happen to him, are simply to give the reader a complete sampling of every aspect of the society and philosophies created in the book. This led me to become very detached from the main character; almost to the point of feeling like I was watching a mouse go through some kind of cruel lab experiment. Aside from that, the book is highly repetitive with its concepts and ideologies, which can quickly become very tedious at times. At a few points I found myself rolling my eyes and exasperating, saying “OK I get it!” out loud. Not to mention, there were many contradictions throughout the book, both in the society and in the thoughts and behaviors of others. Some of this was explained away through the story and the concept of “doublethink,” but it was unable to cover all of the instances, which bothered me a bit.
1984 is a good book, but not in my opinion a great one. If you are in a cerebral and contemplative mood (especially if you like to ponder on people and governments), it is a fantastic pick for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a great dystopian story to read…I’d pick a different book. If I was rating this solely on the political and societal concepts it would be a 5 star, but the story is 2 star quality, so in the end my final rating is a 3 out of 5 stars.