Book #137 – Fahrenheit 451

57947I borrowed this book off my sister one of the last times she came to visit, I think. I know Alex was reading it (the only book I’ve *ever* seen him read) one of the last times he came to visit too, so it was floating around the edge of my consciousness for months before I actually bothered to pick it up and get through it.
Even though it’s a classic, I wasn’t wowed by it.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

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.

Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which, decades on from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock

I understand that F451 is a classic, and one of the foremost examples of dystopian literature around. And, as anyone who skims the list of books I’ve read this year might be able to tell, I’m a huge dystopia fan. So I was pretty excited to read F451 this year – it’s not only the only book I’ve ever seen my boyfriend read, but my sister had said she enjoyed it too, so it was coming with pretty high recommendations.

It just didn’t do it for me, though. I don’t know why not, because there were lots of things in F451 that I really enjoyed – the whole idea of a world where books are banned, where firemen exist to burn books, that society would be trapped by the idea of television, a ‘family’ in your front room which entertains without having to engage – all of these things were good, but there was something missing, and I don’t know what it was.

After finishing Fahrenheit 451, I was left wondering what it had done to push itself above its contemporaries and earn its status as a classic – maybe I’m jaded by the sheer volume of dystopia available now (there’s no denying that it’s a genre very much in vogue), but I just didn’t see what made it so deserving of much praise.
It seemed decidedly average to me.


Three Stars
***

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