Friday, March 23, 2007

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury

Year: 1951
190 pp.

Rating: 4.5

I cannot believe I haven't read this book before. It deserves its "classic" status and should be read by all. This book is scary. Really. Scary. It is similar to 1984--a picture of what society could become if we let it.

Montag is a fireman who doesn't put out fires, he starts them. He burns books and the houses that contain them. His wife Mildred watches and listens to "the wall" all day, basically a huge screen TV. Almost all of the city dwellers are TV zombies, and then when they're not watching "the wall", to make themselves feel better they go out and ride their cars at dangerously high speeds. Most are on any number of pills.

Montag doesn't notice anything is wrong with his life until he meets 17 year-old Clarisse, his next door neighbor. She is different. She notices things he doesn't notice. Her family actually talks to each other. She is happy and asks him if he is. He says he is, but later at home admits to himself he isn't. He starts to question himself why, and from there he changes his life completely.

A quote that stood out because of its resemblance to today:

"I'm afraid of children my own age. they kill each other. Did it always use to be that way? My uncle says no. Six of my firends have been shot in the last year alone. Ten of them died in car wrecks. I'm afraid of them and they don't like me because I'm afraid. My uncle says his grandfather remembered when children didn't kill each other. But that was a long time ago when they had things different. They believed in responsibility, my uncle says. Do you know, I'm responsible. I was spanked when I needed it, years ago. And I do all the shopping and housecleaning by hand."

A world where all people do is watch TV and become progressively more violent. A world where books and ideas are "dangerous". A world where "happiness" is supreme, but no one is happy. A very scary world indeed.


Headmistress, zookeeper said...

I agree that this is a must-read. So much is really applicable to our time.
I have never forgotten the point that the chief makes about how the censorship didn't come first- what happened first is that people just stopped reading books.

Kevin S. said...

I am presently reading this book. Like you, I don't know how I managed to live this long without having read it.

Thanks for the review.

lifelongreader said...

A cracking read - should be read by anyone who likes books. I particularly loved the end of his book - the community, very clever idea.

Chris said...

Same here! I read this book for the Banned Books challenge as well and was so surprised that I hadn't read this yet. It was a great book! My first Bradbury...looking forward to more of his books.

lifelongreader said...

In light of this - check out this story from CNN - spooky!

Anonymous said...

I will have to read the books you have been reviewing...This one especially. Aunt TB told me about your reviews because I told her since JS has been deployed, I have read more books in 2 months than I ever did in a year (sadly...I am a light reader). What I wanted to comment on is...have you ever read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand?? It is a long read (1168 pgs)...but a good tale of giving it to Big Brother.
Your Cuz,