#Bookreview – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Book reviews

What Amazon says

Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of 20th-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future, narrated here by Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family”. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

My review

I listened to the audio book of Fahrenheit 451, narrated by Tim Robbins. The narration was excellent and Tim Robbins certainly made the most of Ray Bradbury’s very vigorous and to the point style of writing in certain parts of the book to such an extent that I felt as if I was running with Guy Montag and experiencing his fear, pounding heart and uncertainty.

This is one of the most unique dystopian novels I have read and is right up there with H.G. Wells with its incredible philosophical insight into human society, what makes us tick individually and as a group and how it could all go incredibly wrong if mankind, as a group, makes incorrect choices along the pathway leading into the future. What makes this book incredibly scary is how horribly possible it all is and how awful the black cloud of illiteracy and ignorance is and how it limits people’s choices and abilities to progress and grow. All this being said, however, this book does end on an optimistic and hopeful note which is invigorating and uplifting, especially given the momentous issues that are currently staring mankind in the face like climate crisis and the fourth industrial revolution.

Guy Montag is a fireman, whose job involves the destruction of books and the belongings and homes of people who go against the law of the nation and keep and read books. The reader is introduced to Guy in a happy state of enjoyment over his current burning and you get the impression that he is happy and fulfilled in his life and his work.

Coming out of the train station at the end of his work shift, Guy meets Clarice, an unusual young woman who is a thinker. The reader quickly realises that she is incredibly unique in this time of book burning and technological dominance over creativity, thinking and, in essence, the spirit of man. Guy listens to what Clarice has to say, nothing specific, but a series of innocent ramblings with enough substance to make him think. She ends the evening by asking him if he is happy. Is he happy? As this leading question and an immediate and alarming set of circumstances in his home life, cause Guy Montag to consider the meaning of his whole life and the lives of those around him, he realises that he is not happy in his lifestyle of forced gaiety and non-conflict. He also comes to see that no-one else around him is happy either and that their lifestyles are meaningless and also emotionless.

The beauty of this story is in it unerring ability to make the reader question his/her existence and the meaning of life. In the same manner as HG Wells depicted the Eloi, in his book The Time Machine, as being human creatures who have evolved into childlike and uninspired creature through living a Utopian type existence where there every need is met and there exists no conflict or hardship or anything else to spark thinking, innovation and progress. I saw parallels in the thinking process between HG Wells and Ray Bradbury and the recognition that a perfect Utopian environment would ultimately lead to the downfall of mankind as it would strip away our survival skills and instincts and we would not be able to cope with the resurgence of conflict and evil which is always bound to reappear in life. Perfection can only ever be a thin veneer over the underlying issues inherent in societies and human interaction which each other.

This is an exceptional book and an inspired story.

Purchase Fahrenheit 451

23 thoughts on “#Bookreview – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

  1. This is one of those books I never happened to read in high school – we read “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Bradbury instead. It’s so universally read, though, that perhaps I should give it a try!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s