Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Vintage Books
First Published: April 8, 1949
Genres: Classics, Dystopia
Format: Ebook, Hardcover
Source: Prime Reading, Purchased
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching...
A startling and haunting vision of the world, 1984 is so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the influence of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.
Winston is our everyman, a middle-aged average male living under the heel of a totalitarian regime. His work is bland, his food is bland, his everyday routine is bland. Winston is losing it, he wonders about the world that was before the party and resists in small ways. He ponders about the subtle ways that the party exerts its control, by perpetual war, by rewriting history, by lying so blatantly that the members of the party have to accept the lies as truth. Winston dreams of revolution and finds himself seeking out others like him.
Nineteen Eighty-Four was not an easy read by any means, it’s startlingly brutal. I thought the pacing was pretty good even though things are broken up by a huge essay in the middle. While info dumps can be a bit disjointing to read, I could bear with it for this novel. The last half of the novel caught me off guard and I loved it, even when I found it difficult to digest. The book was brilliant because it doesn’t just preach about what’s right and wrong, the unsettling reality of the novel comes crashing down on the reader’s head full force.
The power structure of the party is just downright diabolical. I can’t think of any other way to describe it; the method of control, the reasons for maintaining such a strict social order, the sheer scale of the party’s reach – all of it was terrifying when taken as a whole. There were points in the second half of the novel where I had to put the book down because it was stressing me out too much, and this was a first for me. I now understand fully what folks mean when they label something as “Orwellian,” and why this novel is hailed as one of the very best of the dystopia genre. Hell, there are others that I’ve read that I thought were bleak, but none quite to this degree. Nineteen Eighty-Four makes other books in the dystopia genre seem like lighthearted adventure novels.
The novel is extremely effective in the delivery of its core message about government control and humanity by creating a potential future that is harrowing, particularly because of its plausibility, as a warning to all. This is the type of book that will stick with me for a long time and I’m glad I finally sat down to read it.
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
Trigger Warning: Mild Sexual Content, Violence, Graphic Torture