A few years ago, I read an extract from this book and ever since I’ve been desperate to read it. I finally brought it last year and it’s been on my shelf since collecting dust really. I finally picked up and read it and here are my thoughts…
“Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the need of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for the truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worked, Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.”
This is going to be a relatively short review because honestly, I don’t want to say too much and give it away. I honestly think that if you intend of reading this book you should jump right in and do it with little background knowledge – I, personally, think you would have a better experience if you do that.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is split into three sections and when I began the book, it felt slow – really quite slow as the first section is essentially just world-building. However, by taking this time to build this society, Orwell is able to develop the reader’s understanding of what this society is like for the character of Winston Smith. Orwell’s world-building is done so well and although the beginning of the book felt slow, it also felt necessary. I feel as though I can genuinely say that this was some of the best world-building I’ve ever read.
The protagonist in this book is Winston Smith and although I didn’t grow to like him as I usually do with books I read, that wasn’t necessary. It’s rare that I find a book in which the characters don’t feel extremely important to me but Nineteen Eighty-Four was one of those rare occurrences. The world and society itself was enough to make me intrigued and want to read on. As stated, I’ve been wanting to read this book for a few years now and throughout this time I had developed a good idea of what I thought the book’s plot would entail. I was wrong, to an extent. When I had finished reading this book I was impressed (to an extent) to what this book had done.
As previously stated, this book is split into three sections and genuinely speaking structured pretty well. The language is also accessible which is part of the beauty of modern classics for me. Generally speaking, I can imagine this book is accessible to a wide-range of readers. My only problem with the structure of this book was the length of chapters but I do personally prefer shorter chapters.
Overall, Nineteen Eighty-Four is probably even more relevant today than it was in 1949, what with the developments in technology since Orwell writing this book. It’s a chilling read but so, so relevant – I genuinely cannot express that enough. I once saw a description of this book – “It’s a warning, not a guidebook” – and honestly, I think that’s just a great way to describe it. This book is not necessarily a new favourite of mine but I will recommend it to you reading this, no matter what kind of book you like to read.
Rated: 4 stars.