Friday, 21 June 2013

1984 by George Orwell

Publisher: Penguin
Format: Kindle
Published: This Edition: 3rd July 2008
First Published: 1949
Number of Pages: 336
Book: Bought
Genre: Dystopia, Science-Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Horror, Psychological Suspense, Classic Adult, YA-Adult Crossover
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Torture, Alcohol and Smoking References
No Drug References

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One.  Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal.  When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities.  Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy.  Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind.  For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101…
Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.


Imagine a world where everything is controlled.  And I'm not just talking the Nazi or Soviet kind of control.  I'm talking control of EVERYTHING.  Media, books, language, actions, thoughts, history – what people know and feel.  It's terrifying because it’s happened before to some extent.  It could happen again...  And I guess it would start small and get bigger and bigger until...  Bam.  Hello, Big Brother...
Now don't forget: 
"Big Brother Is Watching You..."
All the time.  Everywhere.  No matter why you are doing. 
This is the world Winston Smith lives in.  This totalitarian state where every single thing is monitored and recorded - even thoughts.  Where history and memories can be rewritten to fit with the ideals of the Ingsoc - the English Socialism Party. 
Free thinking is not acceptable – not ever.  It is the worst crime you can commit. 
And yet this is what Winston is doing – thinking his own thoughts.  And then he falls in love with Julia.
Even with spies everywhere, they find themselves drawn towards rebellion, towards conspiracy. 
Bu nothing gets past Big Brother.
Can Winston hold onto his love and freethinking through the tortures the Ministry of Love inflict on him?
Through Room 101, where your worst nightmares come to life...?
And never forget:
When I was younger, adults would say things like: "oh, it's like Big Brother is watching you" or "well, that would be in my Room 101..."  As a child, I didn't get it.  It wasn't until the start of my AS Level English Lit that I finally understood it all.  Sure, I'd heard of 1984, but I didn't realise that it was the book about Big Brother.  So when my English teacher recommended reading it as an additional text, I was instantly intrigued.  1984 is seen as a literary classic and after reading it, I most certainly know why.  It's mind-blowingly amazing and so very scary it's untrue.  I can't recommend it enough!
Now, dystopias are always scary.  There's always the whole 'what if?' side of them, the feeling of foreboding you can't quite shake.  1984 is literally the king of all dystopias.  It is scary as hell, probably because every single thing about it felt really like it could all happen tomorrow.  Like a Big Brother is just round the corner.  Or is here already, for all we know…  Orwell has captured everything everyone fears most and turns it into a scary-as-hell story and world that is so real you could almost touch it, taste it, feel it.
And I know characters aren't the big point of this book – being scared out of your mind might be, though – but I did really like Winston: he was a refreshing change in a world that pretty much lacked morals and free thinking.  But what this book shows perfectly is that even the strongest character, even the ones with hatred and love and resolve inside, must struggle with everything they have to resist or fight back against the psychological control of a totalitarian dystopian world – and that not all will be successful…
Speaking of, this dystopian world is the scariest I've come across.  There were no laws, but if you did something they didn't like, you could be killed or sent to work camps.  And someone was always watching you through various kinds of technology.  And the children - God.  They were terrifying.  Did you know there was this kid in Nazi Germany who snitched on his own patents and was held up as a hero?  Well, all the kids in 1984 were always listening, ready to turn their parents into Big Brother for some little treachery or another.  Patents were scared of their own kids.  Get why I was scared to death?!  And the idea of Newspeak, the language that gets smaller over time, fascinated and horrified me.  We live in a world where we can speak our minds and where we have so, so many words to choose from.  But if all the dangerous, revolutionary words were taken out of our vocabulary, if we were restricted to certain words, how can we think for ourselves?  How can we fight back when there aren't the words to do so?  It's terrifying and intriguing all in one.  Pure, terrifying genius. 
On a negative note, we know Winston can remember all the past – the bits before they were written from history and the people who disappeared, but I wasn't sure about everyone else - did they just know it all and keep quiet out of fear?  Or did it all somehow get written out of their heads as the papers were rewritten?  And if so, how?  Damn these questions – they bugged me for ages.  Still bug me, actually... 
But Orwell's writing was obviously amazing.  The writing was beautiful and haunting, if a little heavy at times.  Nonetheless, I could see everything so, so clearly in my head.  And the plot was so very gripping its untrue.  It was intense, suspenseful – the kind of plot where you could feel all that suspense building and building and building, waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak.  It was intense and terrifying.  And oh so addictive.  
Some books are called classics even when they don't seem like them.  1984 was most definitely worthy of the title.  It was psychologically terrifying, mentally challenging, totally and completely beyond words.  1984 was an amazing, powerful book that left me shaken up and reeling.  Classics are classics for a reason, my teacher told me when I mentioned how brilliant it was.  And in the case of 1984, it's a classic for a million and more reasons.  It is most definitely a book everyone must read, a book I can't recommend enough. 

Star Rating:
4¼ Out of 5 

Read this book if you liked:
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Modern Utopia by H.G. Wells
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Challenges It's Taking Part In:
Happy Reading



Josh Caporale said...

My oh my, is this book a fine discussion point. I remember reading this and it could very well be the image of our future. The rats also provided a creepy scene about the punishment of living our worst nightmare. This and "Animal Farm" make up an excellent career for Orwell.

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

It's a brilliant book. I loved discussing it and comparing it to Handmaid's Tale by Atwood. So scary though - it could totally be our future! *shudder*

Josh Caporale said...

I never read "Handmaid's Tale," but I watched an excerpt of the film for Postmodernism class. It was painful to see these women being captured to simply be used to possess children for others. It's different from "1984," but just as shuddering.

TheBookAddictedGirl said...

Josh: Handmaid's Tale is brilliant - so much better than the film. It's absolutely horrible but at the same time absolutely amazing. I recommend reading it - it's much much better than the film! :D

Rachael Reviews said...

This is one of my favourite books ever. I read a lot of classics, and when people ask me to recommend them one, this is literally the top of my list. I just think its so timeless in its content especially with what's going on in society right now, and Orwell was way beyond his time. Did you study the USSR? I studied it for GCSE and I found the contextual history really interesting to know. I'm glad you liked it :)

Josh Caporale said...

Rachael, we studied Orwell as well and had to connect "Animal Farm" to figures in the Russian Revolution they represented. I read "1984" after graduating high school.

Megan, I will have to check out Handmaid's Tale, because I can believe that it's quite painful. Though I believe that if something is painful, it's doing its job (as long as it's not ridiculously immoral).