Book Review : Fahrenheit 451

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The first quarter of 2017 was mostly dedicated to dystopian novels. One book that belongs to this genre, which I mentioned in the last 5-minute review which you can find here, is Fahrenheit 451. It is one of the most recommended books of this genre and it sits in the league of 1984 and Brave New World. Fahrenheit 451 was written by Ray Bradbury in 1953 and is considered one of his best books and I definitely agree with that. This book won Bradbury many awards including a Retro Hugo award and a Grammy Nomination for the audiobook which was narrated by Bradbury himself. I had listened to this version of audiobook only which I am sure must have added a lot of extra value to the text.

About the book the setting of the book is somewhere in American Midwest sometime beyond 1960s. The world is such where books no longer have a place in the society. Owning and reading of books is a crime and firemen, the people whose job it is to put off fires and save lives are not repurposed to the task of finding and burning books. In literal sense, the firemen are doing the literal opposite of what they do today. The story is written in the point of view of one such fireman named Guy Montag. Despite being loyal to his job Montag is constantly remains conflicted about the right and wrong of his occupation. His conflicts are aggravated when he meets 2 characters first being a little girl named Clarisse who is, you can say, peculiar by the standards of those bookless times. She would ask questions and do things like observe snow and the rain and have idle chats with her uncle thigs unheard of in those times. The second character which impacted Montag was an unnamed, or at least I don’t remember her name, who decided to die with her books when Montag and his colleagues raided her house and found a whole lot of books. Her death deeply impacted Montag whose mind was already confused and conflicted.
Without getting into much detail the story follows how it is discovered that Montag had been stealing books from burn sites and has built a small cache of books which he plans to read to figure out what the fuss is all about. How he finds someone to help him in this quest. How he is betrayed by his colleagues and family who do not want to be part of this crime.

Coming straight to the things I liked about this book

Bradbury’s writing. Guy Montag’s character is extremely well written and the way Bradbury uses alliteration and repeats phrases to emphasize on the conflict and the angst of Montag is actually efficient. You instantly relate with the character and can feel his confusion and the anger and the helplessness. It is powerful.

The second awesome thing about the book is how relevant it is in today’s context. This book burning is a commentary on the censorship and the suppression of free thinking that is easy to find today. In these times where movies about women are held by censor boards for being “too woman-centric”, people are arrested for making posts on social media and people are hooked to their mobile phones constantly it makes you wonder if Bradbury had a time machine and he used it to come to the future, observe and go back and write about it.

This book has aged extremely well. Despite the fact that this book is almost 70 years old it is still easy to relate to which means that if a youngster of today’s generation picks up this book they will be able to enjoy it thoroughly.

To conclude if dystopia is your genre or even reading a good book is your thing I recommend this book to you.

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