Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fahrenheit 451.

Title/Author: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Narrated by: Scott Brick

Genre: Dystopian

Publisher: Books on Tape.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Clarissa.

Synopsis: The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning, along with the houses in which they were hidden.

Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires. And he enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs or the joy of watching pages consumed by flames, never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid. Then Guy met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think. And Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to

My Thoughts:
I admit I have never read this important book. Not even for school. Of course I knew what it was about because it is so iconic. A society where reading books is illegal and punishable.  The way these criminal readers are punished?  Burn not only their books, but their entire houses.  Eeek.

The story takes place mostly in the head of the main character Guy Montag. He is a fireman in a dystopian, alternate society. Fireman are responsible for burning things that are dangerous, case in point, books. But Guy has an awakening of conscience after meeting Clarissa, his teenage neighbor, who asks him questions that he is now forced to think about whether he likes it or not and after a woman decides to burn with her books.

The story is a great deal of Montag’s thoughts as he deals with his new views. They are written as a stream of conscience and there is very little container, although I could see the little house where he and his wife lived and his neighborhood and even the woods where he sought refuge. Some of the details were confusing to me at times, but they didn’t take away from the context of the story.

Bradbury’s style is staccato and reminded me of the militant society in which the story took place. This made for powerful thoughts and ideas. It is emotional and sometimes just downright heartbreaking.

The narrator is good, but I felt his voice and language a bit forced at times.  I also think that for me, an audio book was the way to go for Fahrenheit 451.  I'm not sure I would have been able to get out of it what I did had I been reading it myself. 

I can’t say I enjoyed this book, but I’m glad I gave it a try. I find myself thinking about that alternate world, a world without books because different ideas are dangerous, because different views lead to trouble. Burn out anything that is politically incorrect or the least bit offensive and soon you have a sterile setting. In this world, only being entertained and pursuing pleasures are encouraged. The pursuit of philosophy will just make people unhappy because they will see how unfair life is.

I like the character Clarissa, the young girl who had her mind and her eyes open. She is innocent and represents that in the way she asks questions and daydreams and wonders. I thought the wife Millie interesting because although it is apparent that she is unhappy, that she is aware something is wrong with this existence, she shuts it away and pretends everything is fine. 

I really enjoyed the afterward by Bradbury who talks of editing and likens it to the reasons given in his book. He quotes “There is more than one way to burn a book.” He also wrote a play re-visiting the characters of F-451 and said the one who revealed the most is Baty, the Fire Chief. Baty, it turns out, in this play has thousands of books. BUT, he never reads them. The law states you cannot read them, but it doesn't state you cannot have them.  He diabolically lets them die because they are never read.

For more insights and opinions on Fahrenheit 451 simply read the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  They are varied and interesting and some readers wrote essays on this story.  Interpretations run the gammut and I'm sure this book has been the topic for coursework and debate.

This wasn't the easiest book to get through for me, but it is an important one that everybody, especially book lovers, should give a try.

Other editions:



Chris 'Frog Queen' Davis said...

Create review. I read it as a kid and have to say reading it as an adult we quite a different experience. I did not get the heartbreak or "what the big deal" was until later in life. I put this book with The Bell Jar on that level. Completely different books when read again.

Thanks for sharing.


La Toya said...

OH wow, I have never read this one either but had it on my list. I think I tried to get into it a few times but nothing ever came of it. I'd like to try to listen to it though.

La Toya (La Toya, Literally)

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

Great review..i have read this book four times..three with each of my children..since its required in high school. Each time..i picked up something new

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

I sadly have to admit that I have never read this book either. It's on my Honestly, I'll Get To It Someday tbr pile... with other books I'll probably never get to. *sigh*

Karen said...

I'm sure my husband has read this one - I'll have to ask him. I of course haven't - add it to the list lol
Really interesting review.

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