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Book Review: 1984
I first read this book in my eleventh grade of high school for an AP English class. For our final project we could choose any book we wanted, so I picked 1984 based on my brother's recommendation. I had previous read Fahrenheit 451, another dystopian novel, and discovered that I enjoyed the genre. I proceeded to breeze through this book in less than a week.
Author: George Orwell
Publication Year: 1949
Publisher: Secker and Warburg
Genre: Dystopian; Political Question
My Rating: 4.75/5
War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.
As the title states, this novel is set in the (at the time of writing) futuristic year of 1984, in a society known as Oceania. After a worldwide atomic war Oceania is under a totalitarian rule, where "Big Brother" regulates everything: what you see, what you eat, where you work, when/if you procreate, even what you think.
The story revolves around Winston Smith, a common man who dreams of breaking free from the Party's rule with the help of a group called the Brotherhood. Winston works at the Ministry of Truth, or "Minitrue", where his duty is to doctor newspapers, photographs, official documents, etc. in order to erase those people who the Party finds undesirable from history altogether.
Winston meets Julia while working at the Minitrue and the two begin an affair, unaware of the consequences they will meet.
- "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
- “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever."
- “Big Brother is Watching You."
- “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
- “If you loved someone, you loved him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love.”
I love this book. When you first start reading the use of the "newspeak" language of Oceania can make your brain hurt a bit, but you get used to it quickly. George Orwell is a great writer and at no point in this book did I find myself bored or wishing the plot would advance faster. Even though this novel was written in 1948 and set in 1984, it is still surprisingly relevant today. It serves as a cautionary tale of what the world may become if we continue on our set path.
This book is banned in Russia, and although it is not banned in the United States it is not required reading for most high school students.
Everyone should read this book at least once. For me this was the type of book where the second or third time you read it you really get the full effect. It is highly political so some may find that off putting; however the story is so eloquently told that it does not read as a purely political story.
The film version of 1984, which interestingly was released in 1984, was directed by Michael Radford and stars John Hurt, Suzanna Hamilton, and Richard Burton. This is film is definitely one of the better book-to-movie adaptations that I have seen. It stayed very true to the novel and a good job was done by the entire cast. I recommend watching it (after you've read the book of course!).