Winston is our every man, a middle aged average male living under the heel of a totalitarian regime. His work is bland, his food is bland, his every day routine is bland. Winston is losing it, he wonders about the world that was before the party and resists in small ways. He ponders about the subtle ways that the party exerts it’s control, by perpetual war, by rewriting history, by lying so blatantly that the members of the party have to accept the lies as truth. Winston dreams of revolution and finds himself seeking out others like him.
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
Nineteen Eighty-Four was not an easy read by any means, it’s startlingly brutal. I thought the pacing was pretty good even though things are broken up by a huge essay in the middle. While info dumps can be a bit disjointing to read, I could bear with it for this novel. The last half of the novel caught me off guard and I loved it, even when I found it difficult to digest. The book was brilliant because it doesn’t just preach about what’s right and wrong, the unsettling reality of the novel comes crashing down on the reader’s head full force.
The power structure of the party is just downright diabolical. I can’t think of any other way to describe it; the method of control, the reasons for maintaining such a strict social order, the sheer scale of the party’s reach – all of it was terrifying when taken as a whole. There were points in the second half of the novel where I had to put the book down because it was stressing me out too much, and this was a first for me. I now understand fully what folks mean when they label something as “Orwellian,” and why this novel is hailed as one of the very best of the dystopia genre. Hell, there are others that I’ve read that I thought were bleak, but none quite to this degree. Nineteen Eighty-Four makes other books in the dystopia genre seem like lighthearted adventure novels.
The novel is extremely effective in the delivery of it’s core message about government control and humanity by creating a potential future that is harrowing, particularly because of it’s plausibility, as a warning to all. This is the type of book that will stick with me for a long time and I’m glad I finally sat down to read it.
Title: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: June 8, 1949
Source: Prime Reading
In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.