- Publication Date: June 8, 1949
- Science-fiction, dystopia, adult, where the saying “Big Brother is watching you” comes from
- WARNINGS: This is kind of a slow read and has topics that may go over your head on the first read as well as a few adult themes really young children probably shouldn’t read, but hey, it’s up to you. Also, there be no happy endings here, friends.
“Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, his dystopian vision of a government that will do anything to control the narrative is timelier than ever…
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching…
A startling and haunting vision of the world, 1984 is so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the influence 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.”
I first read Orwell’s 1984 my freshman year of high school. I was supposed to do a book report on any book of my choosing. An odd combination of wanting to impress my teacher as well as just wanting to pick a book so that I could be done with it drew me to my grandfather’s book shelf where his used copy of 1984 sat. Though I unfortunately can’t remember his words, I remember my grandfather being so pleased that I had picked this book and me being pleased that he was pleased. I was such a grandpa’s little girl…
The nostalgia from my memory lane aside, 1984 is definitely one of those books that as you get older and experience more in the world you get something new or finally understand a part that never clicked for you the first time reading it.
For someone who tends to not reread books (I know, and I call myself a book lover), having a book like 1984 that I have read several times is such an oddity, especially when looking back at my notes and annotations I first made in my copy for my high school book report. My thought processes have drastically changed since then. I remember circling things and putting question marks around many things that I did not quite understand. For example, as a shy high schooler who thought that sometimes simple was best, I didn’t understand how the limitations of words that the characters in this book could use to describe things was so bad. Wouldn’t that mean there would be less confusion because everyone would use exact words instead of overly flowery paragraphs with words and multiple meanings that could have been said in one or two short sentences? However, as I grew older, I realized that this was not about being succinct but about being censored and in many cases, silenced and unable to express things and truly connect and be free with others.
Though 1984 is definitely a thought provoking book, especially during current times, I will admit that it’s a pretty slow read, with much of the “action” (if you want to call it that happening towards the later half. Also, if you were expecting a happy ending…well, this is not that book. I think with books like the Hunger Games and Divergent, readers of this generation expect some sort of hero with a revolution following them. In 1984 there’s no hero. Even the main character Winston is not exactly someone I would want to follow, and not in the “he has great hidden potential that he just needs to realize sort of way”. He’s an everyman. An everyman who does not overturn the corrupt system but instead, in the end, becomes compliant to it despite everything that he learned to be wrong and untrue. (Does the term “alternative facts” ring any bells?) That’s frightening.
In that sense, 1984 is almost more horror story than science fiction…
Overall, I would definitely recommend everyone to read 1984 at least once in their lifetime. Not only is it a classic, the themes of perpetual war, government surveillance, and media manipulation are all things that we are currently dealing with though hopefully our fates don’t turn up like Winston’s.
What do you all think? Have you read 1984 already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Weekend Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.