“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”
– Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Before I go on with this fired-up review of mine (see what I did? XD , okay, that was a bad one, probably…), I have to say that I will definitely be doing the tags and awards, but since the college assignments are flooding right now, that might have to wait, again (I’m sorry!), but I’ll certainly do them 😀 .
Okay, so, I decided to read Ray Bradbury’s renowned “Fahrenheit 451” since I had heard plenty of nice comments on it, and I was in a need for some inspiration for one of my assignments. Even though I didn’t use this book for the assignment in the end, I have to say that reading it was a time well-spent!
“Fahrenheit 451” takes place in a dystopian future, where books are now illegal. The world is ruled by televisions, and those revealed to possess books will have their books and even residence, burned down. As for the ones conducting the burning, they are called as “firemen”. Yes, firemen are not putting out fires, but rather, starting them. One of the firemen, named Guy Montag, meets a high-school student named Clarrise McClellan, who told him about the times when books are recognized sources of knowledge and expression. Gradually influenced by this, Montag’s perception of life shifts, and after the mysterious disappearance of Clarrise, the situation gets more and more severe.
Even the the blurb itself, the book’s point is quite clear: books are important, and can be threatening to some figures of authority. Therefore, we are going to talk about what makes the presentation of the message so appealing. In my opinion, the very concept of the dystopian world is interesting enough; firemen burning books? that’s unheard of! XD . As alarming and serious as it is in the book, that concept is undoubtedly unique, and the establishment of the world is also detailed; we get specific terms, such as “Beetle” for the vehicle, “Salamander” for the ‘firetrucks’, and even the ones inside the TV shows are called as “family” or “relatives”! The futuristic world is nicely constructed with its own details, and they are so strangely unpleasant that readers can immediately know that something really bad is going to happen, soon. When things do happen, the distressing nature of the governance system and ideology is revealed in a weirdly nice fashion.
Aside from the vivid dystopian vibe and atmosphere, the fact that the book attempts to emotionally engage the reader through various occurrences in the book, such as the disappearance of Clarisse (who is, at first, the only sensible character in the book), Mildred (Montag’s wife) and her suicidal tendencies, and even the intimidating speeches by the captain of the firemen, Beatty, deserves some huge credit. I know that it might not be as emotionally engaging as YA literature or some classic romance stories, but the very attempt to create these characters and having them behave in interesting manners is by no means lousy; Mildred and her TV addiction is superbly illustrated, and Faber’s reason on staying silent can be empathized with, all due to Bradbury’s detailed, spot-on narratives. The presence of parties who are clearly ‘brainwashed’ by the world, and those who still retain their rationality might seem to be generic, but Bradbury manages to paint the conflict among those two forces brilliantly, evoking the readers’ desire to root for Montag. This is strengthened by the fact that it seems to be Montag going against the entire city to support his belief. Unfairness makes for an immense number of supporters, and “Fahrenheit 451” proves it true.
Books with such a strong, explicit message and storytelling might be too preachy at times, and I have to say that this one CAN seem to be a bit preachy in certain parts, but at least Bradbury managed to integrate those didactic thoughts into appropriate situations. So, it’s all well in the end! At first, I was quite bothered by the purple prose describing the situation, environment, or objects, but soon, I got used to it, so I believe readers won’t be really bothered by that. Also, since the book is a short one, there may be the lack of character development and I think Montag undergoes a shift of mindset too abruptly. Aside from these, I couldn’t seem to identify any other flaws 😀 .
“Fahrenheit 451” delivers a clear message with a number of interesting characters. The development might not be much, some might be too sudden, but for a book this short, those flaws are tolerable. To me, this little masterpiece has conveyed how important books are in an engaging manner with its suspense, drama, and a disturbing vision of the future. Additionally, I believe it sends more warning to our modern society than just the importance of books, it is about the danger of technology, majority-envy, and the ironic conclusion of being depressed while believing that we are happy.
Rating from me: 4/5
Have you read “Fahrenheit 451”? What do you think of it? Some people say this is one accessible book, and I do agree, but there are still some passages where I pondered quite a lot to get what they mean, and even then, I wasn’t sure if I got them right! XD