‘1984’ by George Orwell [Book Review]

Somehow it’s April, and I’ve only just finished my second book of the year and the 2018 Reading Challenge. Regardless, things are kicking back into action now with the imminent start of my MA English dissertation, which I have (loosely and theoretically at the moment) decided to base on twentieth century dystopian fiction. As such, today I finished the first of the three or four books I am planning on analysing: 1984 by George Orwell.

This particular book has been firmly on my TBR since I was about seventeen, and was first introduced to the genre, courtesy of Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece, The Road. My A Level coursework was based on the ideology and dystopian themes surrounding the novel, and many supporting sources were suggested: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and a plethora of Orwell, all of which I promised myself I’d read at the time, but suffice to say that I never did. I think now is the perfect time to right that wrong.

Title: 1984
Author: George Orwell
Released: 1949
Pages: 326
Category: #38 A book with an ugly cover
Rating: 7/10

Review:
“The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.”

This dystopian classic stars Winston, a Ministry worker who seeks to overthrow the Party through small, often invisible acts, of rebellion. Bearing terrifying parallels to the current state of the political climate, Big Brother and the Party are identifiable in many countries across the world in the 21st century, which only confirms Orwell’s vision of the future. 

Whilst the story lacked in parts, the important social message that ran through its pages, accompanied by countless thought-provoking concepts, more than made up for its slow-paced delivery.

The few main characters are well developed and distinctly individual; their personalities and actions are what truly shape and define this novel.

I certainly found that I enjoyed the first third of the novel immensely more than the second two thirds; the world-building and introduction of the characters was phenomenal, and entirely captivated my attention. As the story progressed, it became increasingly theoretical and conceptual, despite the action beginning to unfold, which had the unfortunate effect of becoming more difficult to process and less entertaining to read.

Undoubtedly, it is a work of genius. The stark similarities between Orwell’s perceived fantasy and the real world is, to me, the true definition of dystopia, especially considering the turbulent political climate.

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4 thoughts on “‘1984’ by George Orwell [Book Review]

  1. There are certain things we need to hold on to. Our sense of our own individualism; our free-spiritedness; our capacity to love, laugh, play, be instinctive; emotionalism. Society maintains itself to some extent by being clinical, unemotional. There’s a very real clash between our human emotional needs, and the need of society to control us. “1984” hit on that truth, which is why the book continues to be relevant across the decades.
    It’s more than just a work of fiction. Orwell sent out a warning. To respond to the warning we have to examine ourselves as human beings.

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