Sunday, June 24, 2012

1984 by George Orwell

Published in 1949 and set in 1984, the world's power is divided among three great superstates: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. Set in Oceania (future Great Britian and US post WWII), Orwell creates a society plagued by a Party that eliminates anyone who refuses to tow the party line (pun intended). The story is told from the perspective of Winston Smith, a middle-aged man who secretly rejects the hatred and lies spewed forth by the Party. As the story progresses, Winston's rebellion grows more bold as he participates in a forbidden relationship and seeks to discover the Brotherhood, an underground group rumored to be gathering forces to oppose the Party. It doesn't take long, however, for him to discover that the Party has been watching him, and it demands total and ultimate submission: mind, body, and soul. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

Although I enjoy dystopian novels and government conspiracy stories, Orwell's novel was a very tough read to finish. The writing was very dry and rambling with little to no action during the first half. Readers who enjoy the fast-pace of dialogue will find themselves bored with the lengthy descriptions and inner soliloquies. Most of the book hinges on Orwell describing the setting so that Winston's broken spirit seems all the more tragic. For readers who want a modernized version with a more intricate plot, they need to read LITTLE BROTHER (2008) by Cory Doctorow.   

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