Four Star review, originally posted here on March 19, 2016.
This is actually a 4.5 star review. Somehow I made it through high school and on to my 30’s without having read 1984, so I realize that I’m even later to this party than I am to the Harry Potter party. Still, better late than never, right? Especially considering some obscure stat I heard recently that something like 70% or 80% of people who claim to have read 1984 have never actually read 1984. This is all a tangent, meant to introduce the fact that I acknowledge that there’s not much point to reviewing 1984 at this point since everyone else has already read it or at least claims to have. Still, if you’re interested, here are my 2 cents…
This book is clearly and undeniably brilliant.
There are only 2 reasons why I’m not giving it a full 5 stars:
1. I, personally, am just not really into the sci-fi, dystopian future genre. So the fact that I can acknowledge that it is amazing despite it just not being my thing should tell you something about how good it is.
2. It is uneven. When it is on, it is hella on. But at other points it just kinda drags on and rambles for pages at a time without adding much new. Maybe other people liked these parts, but they just weren’t for me.
Otherwise, I was blown away. Orwell’s foresight and imagination are staggering. It was difficult to believe that I was reading something written 70 years ago- it could have been written today. There were plenty of (highly terrifying) parallels to present day, which struck me especially hard as I watch the mess of presidential primaries unfurling on the news, and watch America potentially and voluntarily marching towards a bigoted soundbite machine for a leader.
My favorite scene was small, and it happened early. Our protagonist believes that the key to overthrowing oppressive tyranny laid within the common people- the “proles.” He hears a hullabaloo amongst a crowd of proles, and he believes that society is finally saved- the revolution is starting! But when he arrives, he sees that the ruckus is merely caused by two women arguing over a saucepan. He comments that the people would have the power to save the world, if only they ever cared about things that mattered. Meanwhile in America, more people care about the Kardashians’ twitter fueds than care about Syrian refugees.
So yeah, it will make you cry for humanity, which sucks, but it’s also brilliant, so go read it (for real) if you haven’t already.