1984 by George Orwell
Publishing Info: First Published by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd 1949
Star Rating: 4/5
Back Cover Summary:
‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. . .
To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but it wasn’t entirely what I had been expecting at all, if that makes any kind of sense. It was recommended to me by a friend and the opportunity arose for me to read it for my English Literature course so I dug out my copy to read.
At first I found the writing style challenging – not difficult, but I didn’t find it an easy read. However the style was something I got used to and enjoyed. It does start rather slowly and I really was wondering where Orwell was going with it at first (hence only 4 stars) but after the first few ‘set up’ chapters I got much more into the book. I can see why those first chapters were included and think they are necessary to establish the setting of the novel – it would have been incredibly confusing without the background information set up in those chapters.
As dystopia’s go this really is an excellent example. Before reading this the only dystopia I had read was teen fictions like The Hunger Games but I found reading 1984 so much more insightful into the genre and has greatly helped me with writing my own dystopia. If you’re planning on writing (or are writing) a dystopia then I really would advise reading 1984 as it has helped me massively.
The world building of 1984 is one of its strongest points and really makes the whole setting incredibly believable – I actually believe that our society could turn into the one presented in this novel, something which isn’t necessarily that easy to achieve. It is obvious that a lot of thought and time has gone into each aspect of the world that Orwell presents. The novel is very thought provoking, especially the ending (which I won’t spoil). It really made me think about our society and what it could become and the impact of war on the world and different people.
Overall, 1984 is thoroughly enjoyable and insightful, though you do have to plough through the first few chapters before the plot really gets started. I would recommend this read to anyone, but especially writers (of any genre, not just dystopia) as it is a really excellent example of how to write a great novel. However, this is definitely a novel not for younger teens or children, I think, as it is at times quite complex, both in its writing style and the concepts it presents.