1984 by George Orwell
Signet Classics, 298 pages
Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.
It’s the year 1984, and the world people live in isn’t the same as the world we know today. In this version of the world, everyone lives under close scrutiny of Big Brother — or at least representatives of Big Brother in the form of the Inner Party and the Thought Police. Here we meet Winston, a simple Party guy who is slowly realizing that maybe, there is something else other than the life he is living. Maybe the Party and Big Brother isn’t always right. Maybe, just maybe, the truth that he’s known all his life isn’t the truth at all. What follows is Winston’s “quest” to find out the real truth and perhaps even bring down Big Brother. But is Winston a big enough force to be reckoned with?
Totally honest moment: I would not have read 1984 if it wasn’t our book club’s book discussion book for January 2012. Perhaps I would have read it someday later, but not anytime soon. As much as I like dystopian novels (although not as much as I used to), I just didn’t have enough interest in this book as my other friends did. But like I said, I should read it because I’m a moderator of the book club and it feels like I should read it.
During our book discussion, we were asked to give a word to describe the book, and my chosen word was challenging. It was challenging for me not because I couldn’t grasp the story but because it took me an entire month to read the book. And it was a pretty short book too, if you think about it and I read pretty fast, so taking that long to read a certain book is really a new thing. But the truth is, I just wasn’t that invested in it. You know how there are some books that reel you right in and would make you want to lose sleep while reading it? Well, 1984 didn’t give me that impression. It’s not that I didn’t like it — I did, but I just wasn’t that invested in it to keep on reading it continuously. I think I may have read 10 books while reading this book — if that isn’t proof enough, then I don’t know already. :P
1984 is a good novel, but I feel like my reading is slightly tainted by all the similarly themed YA dystopia books I have read. You know how the main characters often prevailed, or at least almost prevailed in all the YA dystopia books? Well, it isn’t exactly the case here. I liked how the first part of the book started, but the second and third parts weren’t exactly my cup of tea. Oh sure, they were brutal, they were unexpected, but like I said, I was used to reading characters who go against all the odds and somehow win even against a TOTALLY EVIL GOVERNMENT. Perhaps it’s a YA thing, and this book was written way before the ones I know, so it has a really different approach.
The thing about 1984 though, is how it could have been real. Granted, I had myself pulled away form the narrative so much that I couldn’t imagine it being real in the current society and all, but some points during our discussion got me thinking that yeah, maybe it could be possible. Just take social networking for example — how many people can truly say they have their own privacy when they have a Facebook profile or update Twitter every minute or so? Or do we even really know how much information we put out online and how it affects us? It’s a lot to think about.
Even so, there’s a certain separation for me and 1984. Again, it’s not that I didn’t like it, but I also did not really love it as much as other people do. It’s definitely one of those books that should be read if only to get a real grasp of how a dystopian society could look like. Honestly, I don’t think a reader can be a true dystopian fan unless you have read 1984 (and Lois Lowry’s The Giver). You haven’t really seen a big bad evil government until you’ve read the classics, IMHO.
On a related note, though, I think having a real and intelligent book discussion on this book helped me understand and appreciate it more than I would have. It just goes to show that reading isn’t always a solitary activity, and it’s nice to be with like-minded people often with differing opinions to discuss a piece of literature. :)
My copy: Kindle edition