Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 is a view of the future as seen from the 1950’s, although it could still stand firm for today’s thoughts and prejudices. Futuristic sci-fi plots I find are usually post apocalyptic (The Wind from Nowhere by J.G. Ballard) or the impossible utopia which is closer to communism (The Giver by Lois Lowry). The thing I enjoyed most about this book is the way the author took use of lack of free agency from one type and mixed it with the out of control anarchy feeling from the other type of futuristic books.
Guy Montag is an average person living in this futuristic era with jet cars and controlling media entertainment. He is married to a woman with who watches “interactive television” on the three wall sized viewers all day. He shares no emotion with his wife. His occupation is a fireman. Although, in order to keep people feeling “happy” books are outlawed and this fireman’s job is to destroy books. A quote from the recent movie The Matrix states, “Ignorance is bliss.” And that is just the way people live in this life.
Montag converses with a young girl named Clarisse who enjoys the little things in life and does not enjoy the things that keep other youths pacified. For example, instead of sports, television, fast rocket cars, and destruction, she enjoys conversation, picking dandelions and smelling grass. After she mysteriously disappears, Montag begins to realize the meaninglessness of his life. He starts stealing books from crime scenes and hides them in his house. The story follows him in his quest to teach others the importance and ends in an apocalyptic climax.
The story line was quite appealing to me and I enjoyed the imaginative outlook of the author, but I find that I did not delight in the book nearly as much as was annoyed by the book. The entire book was so full of metaphors that it was almost cheesy the way the author wrote. This made it difficult to follow and understand. It got so terrible at one point that I actually believed that Montag had been physically cut in half (but it was only a metaphor for dark and heavy silence)! I also did not enjoy the ending, but as I think of it, I can’t ponder up a better way for it to end. It almost seems that with a book of this type, you have to either kill the main character in the end and show a glimpse of the true utopia, heaven, or leave the ending open, like in Lois Lowry’s The Giver. I was dissatisfied and rate the book mediocre. It’s one of those books that you don’t read because you enjoy it, you read it because you should.