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Nineteen Eighty-Four tells the political hell that encompasses Winston Smith during a time of total oppression. Winston works for the Ministry of Truth’s Records Department where he spends his days editing history under the scrupulous eye of Big Brother (The Party). The Party is the tyrannous government that currently rules, and they exist everywhere with telescreens diligently placed to monitor every single citizen. Those guilty of thoughtcrime will simply cease to exist.
“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
Winston struggles to maintain his humanity as a member of the Outer Party surrounded by lies, fear and hate. When he encounters Julia, a rebellious dark-haired young woman, a secret love affair soon develops. Together they dream of joining The Brotherhood, an alleged covert rebellion that conspires to overthrow Big Brother.
We come across many lists of “Books You Must Read At Least Once” and you will often find this title included. I could spend the rest of this review telling you just how rightfully Nineteen Eighty-Four has earned a spot on these lists. Considered by many to be more of an “essay”, it is definitely not any easy read, and may not be for everyone. It is however, an astounding and thought-provoking dystopian novel that truly pushes the reader to the brink of “what if”.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dark and distressing novel. I am going to tell you right from the start of this review that there are no happy endings or stories of change and revolution. If you are looking for a fairy tale ending, you may want to save this read for another day. Do not however, let this discourage you from reading this classic.
There is little character development, as our main character struggles to remember his life before the party. Winston Smith is bleak, and yes, a bit dull. George Orwell painted the perfect portrait of this dreary life with his dismal characters and settings. This is one of the very few novels I can think of where lack of character background seems to work in favor of the overall premises.
This is a terrific tale of totalitarianism at it’s finest, and a hard title for me to review because there is so much that can be said. Orwell’s classic story depicts the real fear of what happens to society when it has been stripped of all meaning and consciousness under the rule of a tyrannical party. The phrase “Big Brother Is Watching You” still strikes fear into the hearts of many as it has come to represent the frightening thought of what happens when a government decides to abuse power. That this work of fiction was published in 1949 and still continues to touch on such a hot and applicable topic is incredible. Orwell dove deeply into a subject that will always be relevant.
While the pace of this book can be very slow at times, it is deeply thought-provoking. Read throughout the years as a warning and what not to do, Nineteen Eighty-Four is as fascinating as it is terrifying. This novel has easily climbed the ranks of one of my favorite genres, as it has truly defined and set the bar for dystopian tales. This is a must read for every fan of the genre!