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Book review: Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury ***

Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns …

Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.

I have to be honest, I expected more from this book. It didn’t blow me away like some other modern classics have. That being said, I did enjoy this book and I did think that it was very well crafted.

You follow Guy Montag, who’s a fireman. In this future, building have been fireproofed so they no longer burn thus the jobs of firemen have altered from putting fires out to starting them. Books are forbidden here, obviously because the people in charge like their people to just follow along like cattle, not thinking on their own. Getting rid of books and enslaving people through their television sets (which take up a whole room) is their masterplan. It has gotten to a point where there’s actually a war outside and nobody reacts, they all keep talking to their “family” who are inside the television screens.

But one day, Guy starts to doubt himself and the things he has learned to be the truth. Maybe burning books is not the answer, maybe looking away does not solve problems.

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”

Guy is deeply flawed but he’s trying to be a ‘good guy’, he’s trying to rebel against the new normal. I didn’t like him at all but I can see that he’s just lost in this world. A scary world. He wants to change but he doesn’t know how. That struggle was what I found the most interesting.

The last, let’s say.. 30 or 40 pages were the ones that really grabbed my attention. Of course, I can barely tell you anything about them because that would me spoilers but they contain some of the best writing of the whole book. There are some of the most wonderful descriptions of what books are and what their role is and it just filled me with such happiness. Like someone looked inside me, saw how I felt and put it into words. I felt so understood.

Overall, this was a really good book, it wasn’t perfect but it didn’t need to be. It’s a book about books, about what it means to be human, about what makes life meaningful, about love, about family and friendship. There’s just so much truth in those pages. I’ll have to revisit it at some point in the future, I’m glad I have it on my shelf now.

“We have everything we need to be happy but we aren’t happy. Something is missing…
It is not books you need, it’s some of the things that are in books. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”  

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