Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.


Title Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury

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Synopsis:
The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future.

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.

The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.

picadillypink My favorite dystopian novel will forever be Brave New World however, I can see how the three (Brave New World, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451) all work together. And they really do the three novels paint a picture of a horrible society. I enjoyed reading Fahrenheit 451– it’s one that I’ve always meant to read, but I hadn’t. I’ve checked it out from the library a few times, and it’s just gone back without me opening it up. Something just clicked this last time, and I read it in two days. I started it and got about halfway through, wondering if I was even going to finish. I just felt like I wasn’t getting it. That the premise was going over my head and I was reverting back to class when everyone else was seeing symbolism behind great literary works and I was just plodding along reading the words.

The second day everything clicked. I understood. The words flew off the pages, and I was caught up in this terrible world where reading is outlawed and the only acceptable form of conversation and human interaction is the television. It’s terribly depressing if you think about it, and in a way I was seeing parallels to today’s world. We’re all so obsessed with the internet, social media and the direct feed of entertainment, and the plethora of it at our fingertips that often times we forget that we’re social beings–not just names on a social media site.

Okay, didn’t mean to go off on a tangent there. But that’s what made this book click for me. It’s a haunting read, and not my favorite out of the BIG THREE dystopian classics, I can understand why it has such an underground following. Which again I think is neat because it parallels the world Bradbury set up in his book.

Overall pink4 It’s a good book with social commentary that extends even to this time and age. Terrifying due to the realism and the fact that it could happen one day. Plus, who wants to live in a world without books? I know I don’t.

Book Review: 1984 by George Orwell


Title: 1984
Author: George Orwell

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Synopsis:
Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

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“WAR IS PEACE.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”

This is simply one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read. Written in 1948, Orwell creates the ultimate dystopian world that makes everything else pale in comparison. Even now with the up-swell of dystopian books in modern literature. This book is written in such a way that the reader is swept up in this world where everything is regulated, including the way one thinks. Everything is policed, nothing is done of your own free will. That’s what scares me the most, is that even your thoughts aren’t your own.

This book and the characters got into my head. In fact I’m having a really hard time talking about it. It’s that cerebral that memorable-that messed up. There’s a love story, there’s war but above all else there is fear. Fear and conformity. I’ve read Animal Farm, and loved that story–and in a way the two parallel each other. Animal Farm while disturbing and up front in it’s motives outlines the same themes that 1984 does. It’s a little more watered down, a little more subtle. In 1984 Orwell smacks us with a massive story and there’s no denying what’s going on.

Overall: pink4 read this book. Read this book. Read.This.Book.

Book Review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov


Title Lolita
Author: Vladimir Nabokov

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Synopsis:
When it was published in 1955, Lolita immediately became a cause célèbre because of the freedom and sophistication with which it handled the unusual erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Vladimir Nabokov’s wise, ironic, elegant masterpiece owes its stature as one of the twentieth century’s novels of record not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author’s use of that material to tell a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness. Awe and exhilaration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in this account of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America, but most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

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This is one of those classic novels that always taunted me from the bookshelf. I felt guilty even picking it up to read the back. It took me years to gather the courage to check this out of the library. I think it’s because of the subject matter and the themes of the story. Our school didn’t have it on the reading list, though a couple of the surrounding schools did and I was so jealous. I wanted to read this book, mainly because of the shock value associated with reading it.

You ever have a moment where you want to go back in time and just kick yourself? This book is one of those situations. There’s so much more to this book. It’s wonderfully written, full of amazing prose and word games. You’re not supposed to sympathize with Humbert, and there’s not really any point that you can. Nobokov has created such a vile character that one can’t help but hate him (even the author does). It’s an amazing piece of literature. I was swept away in this story, and when I finished it I felt like I was coming out of a haze, I had what a friend lovingly calls a book hangover. I’m glad that I waited to read this. If I had read it when I was younger I would have been too caught up in the sensationalism of the story and missed the subtle details, the way the words are layered. There’s a reason why this is a classic.

Overall:
pink4 This is a good book to read, but if you take it at face value, you’re missing out.

Classic Book review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

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The Summary
Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

The Review:
My copy of this actually came from my high school. My younger brother brought it home to read (which he didn’t) and didn’t return it to the school. It wasn’t on my reading list when I was in high school, and it shuffled around on the bookcases in the house until I decided that I was going to read the book. I didn’t. I just kept shuffling it around and around bookcases, until a couple of months ago when it got placed at the top of my TBR pile. I don’t think I ever paid too much attention to it due to Frankenstein not being one of those old Hollywood monsters that I felt a connection to.

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein)

Can we just talk about that quote for a moment and the brevity that it holds? The absence of fear can create both terrifying and wonderful things, and I think this quote contributes to Shelley’s overall message with this book quite nicely.

I really fell in love with this book, and I’m planning on re-reading it every October now. It’s spooky and terrifying, not because of the monster, but because of the man who created the creature. Frankenstein is a character that will stick with me for a very long time. This isn’t a simple book by any stretch of the imagination. It plays on so many themes and the balance between light and dark, good and evil and the characters that don’t fit neatly into any of these boxes. As a reader I like to have a clear antagonist and a clear protagonist, but with this book the creature and Frankenstein walk the line and cross it several times.

Overall I really loved this book. The narration style isn’t something I’m entirely used to, but I think it worked well. The writing is beautiful, and the characters, the myth, the story, and the warnings within the story are something that will continue to hold the test of time. And frankly, I’m kind of upset that Mr. Covich didn’t assign this to be read in a classroom setting. The discussions with my honor’s or AP English class would have been golden.

The Classics Club: My Love Letter to Catcher in the Rye

Rereading a favourite classic at different stages of your life gives you different insights with each reading. Is there one classic you’ve read several times that also tells a story about you? asked of the Classics Club by Brona at Brona’s Books (Please stop by and check out Brona’s blog, it’s a beautiful, well done blog).

I think at least once in everybody’s life they are Holden Caulfield. I know when I originally read Catcher in the Rye I hate it. I threw it across the room, called the friend who told me to read it and ranted at him for nearly half an hour. I gave it a second chance a couple of months later, when I heard the way a couple of my friends were talking about it. The second time through it just clicked, and everything fell into place. I was head over heels for Holden and his story. Since then I’ve re-read the book at least once a year.

My copy is sitting on the top shelf of my bookshelf, in a prized location. It’s got a duct-taped spine, the white cover has finger print smudges and coffee stains on it. The rainbow on the upper corner is nearly rubbed off, the pages are dog-eared, highlighted and the margins are littered with my handwriting, cramped and tiny as I argue with Holden. It doesn’t close all the way, and there’s still a couple of post-it notes in between pages. I think I have a couple pages taped together. But I can’t bring myself to get a new copy. This is my copy. My Catcher in the Rye, my conversation with both Holden and Salinger. I wasn’t ever one to write in a book–I found it sacrilegious and just wrong. Until I came across this quote:

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

It was almost as though Salinger had given me permission to do what I previously thought was unthinkable. Going through the book page by page and really reading the words, committing them to memory and getting them caught in my mind, so much so that I felt myself falling into the compulsion to write ‘fuck you’ on things. Mainly sneaking up and doing so.

“when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write “Fuck you” right under your nose.”

Catcher in the Rye reminds me with each reading that it’s okay to be a little bit of an asshole–that it’s okay to stick it to others before they stick to you. And to never, ever, be a phoney. As the years have gone by I’ve come to accept that I really am just a female Holden, and I’m okay with that. I’m a smart-ass, I have a big stupid laugh and I identify with not only his apathy, but the well hidden empathy he has.

“I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible.”

Have you read Catcher in the Rye? Let’s talk about it….or any other book that you may have found your reflection in.