Monday, August 20, 2012

"Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury

In honor of Ray Bradbury and his death this year, I decided to read the famous Fahrenheit 451

The prose wasn't what I expected—often poetic, in almost a stream-of-consciousness sort of way.  Not my favorite style, and at times distracting.

The other thing that surprised me was the same thing I felt with Animal Farm, by George Orwell.  With that book, I'd expected a subtle allegory on communism.  There was absolutely nothing subtle about it.  Same with Fahrenheit and censorship.  It would have been more powerful if it was a little less preachy.

However, I found it absolutely fascinating the idea that censorship in Bradbury's world was not government-imposed, at least not initially.  It started with a dumbing-down of media, a sort of natural selection away from the literary and philosophical.  Only then did the oppressive government step in and start enforcing what the people had done to themselves.  The government burned the books, but it was the people who gave them the fuel. 

Rather chilling.

Bradbury's world-building had some other interesting bits, too, like the rather terrifying Hound.

I had a bit of a problem with the main character's abrupt change.  One day Guy Montag is a happy firefighter who loves to burn things—like books.  Then he meets a girl who likes to do crazy subversive things like sitting around and talking with her family.  She makes a few thought-provoking comments about the hollowness of modern life and suddenly Guy realizes how unhappy he is, how everything's gone to pot, and how mindless modern society—and its entertainment—has become.  Now he wants to burn everything, change the world, and risk his life to save the books.  I found the change too sudden to believe.   

What I loved was the ending.  I won't spoil it for any of you who haven't read the book, but the whole last bit was perfect:  disturbing, profound, insightful.     

I'm really enjoying this classic sci fi. 

My rating:  3+

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