Published: June 8th 1949
Genre: Classic Dystopia
GoodReads Average Rating: 4.11 stars
My Rating: 85% (4 stars)
Set in the dystopia society of Oceania, this story is set in a time where The Party seeks absolute obedience and controls everyone through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother. Our main character, Winston, works in the Record Department. His job? To rewrite whatever part of history the Party tells him too. In his work, he creates the example of a perfect citizen, yet inwardly he rebels against all of big brothers controls.
The main reason I wanted to read this book is because, as far as the dystopia genre is concerned, this is where it all started. While there was dystopia’s before this, none of them has been as impactful and successful as this one. In many ways, modern YA dystopia’s we all know and love were inspired by this classic. So, I had to at least give it a try.
In this book the protagonist is one of the few people left who can see The Party for what it really is. While everybody around him has accepted that this new way of life is the better way, and see big brother as a saviour, Winston always wonders if life before the revolution was actually better. This of course puts him in danger, because if anybody were to suspect him of thinking against Big Brother the ‘Thought Police’ would immediately be after him and he would disappear from history all together.
Sometimes it was hard for me to get my head around how Big Brother was able to control everyone so completely. But I suppose, if it’s the only thing you know why would you think anything else? An example used in the book is that we know 2+2=4 but the people of Oceania have been taught that 2+2 is whatever Big Brother says it is. This is just another way for The Party to gain complete control.
“They can make you say anything, but they can’t make you believe it.”
My favourite thing about this book? The creation of the dystopia world. The Party have gained control over everything they possibly can. They have censored and condensed language so intensely they have made 10 new dictionary editions. History is being constantly rewritten, and because the original versions are destroyed, fiction becomes fact as there is no evidence otherwise. Literary is tightly controlled, there’s a ration on chocolate and food is just something that gives people energy rather than pleasure. And while everyone seems to disregard this, Winston is very much aware and that’s what makes him so different and so dangerous to Big Brother.
This book was easy to follow and very much enjoyable. As long as you are able to remember the vast quantity of information given to you in the first 50 pages (I find writing things down helps) then the story is all the more fascinating. Not just fascinating, but frighteningly real, as if somebody could actually be capable of this. As if it is possible for the human race to be ‘dehumanized’ and turned into nothing more than thoughtless robots reproducing and labouring.
“The best books are those that tell you what you know already.”
I absolutely loved this book, and I’m sure it will give me nightmares for months. Totally worth it.
You’d like this if you like…
This is another modern classic dystopia, just a little more extreme and a lot more disturbing. This is based in a futuristic world where the American government has been taken over by the ‘Gilead’ who faked a terrorist attack in order to take over the society. This terrorist attack caused radiation which made a lot of women barren so our main character (who can have children) is used by a powerful commander so that he and his wife can have a child.
I could definitely see similarities while reading 1984. Not just the usual corrupt government who seems to be able to control everyone and see everything. So if you are very much into YA and are looking to venture out, definitely try 1984.
Thanks for reading,