Author: George Orwell
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmarish vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell’s prescience of modern life—the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language—and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.
First up: I really, really love dystopian fiction. George Orwell’s 1984 is like the dystopian book, so obviously I had to read it at some point or another. (Plus my flatmate Slightly has been banging on about it for months, so I half read it to see what all the fuss was about.)
…I hate to say it, but I don’t really get what all the fuss is about.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the world-building; the idea of the Thought-Police is incredible, and I LOVED how Orwell constructed Newspeak. Being a literature student, I found the way that they altered language fascinating – how can you just get rid of half of the English language?? I could honestly have read a book just describing the world for hours on end, because Orwell’s imagination is something else.
The social commentary is similarly interesting; I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the climax of the book, but rest assured that it is anything but boring. That’s the thing – it’s not like I was even bored. The book was at least somewhat engaging all the way through, and I didn’t lose the will to live whilst trying to read it. Even the sections of Goldstein’s book were enough to keep me entertained, which is a feat in itself considering how easily I get bored when the narrative digresses from the plot for a bit (see Victor Hugo’s Les Mis – specifically the Battle of Waterloo.)
However, I had issues with the plot. For such a famous book, I was expecting something with twists and turns, but the whole thing felt…bland. The plot was too basic for my liking, and when I put down the book I was left with the distinct feeling of “is that it?”
Perhaps it’s because I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters, including Winston, the protagonist. Like, I understand that he’s not supposed to be likeable as such, but all I feel towards him is overwhelming indifference. I honestly don’t care what happens to him, or to Julia, or to anyone else, and if that’s the case, then I’m not sure that the book really manages to do what it’s supposed to.
Surely there should be some emotional attachment to them, but alas. Nothing.
Maybe if I gave it a reread in a couple more years I’d have a greater appreciation for the plot, but for now I can’t say I’m blown away.
Has anyone read this? What’re your thoughts? Anyone got recommendations for something along similar lines that I might enjoy more?
Lots of love,