Thursday, 16 September 2010
I often avoid hype when it comes to books (and movies etc.) unfortunately I had heard of this book long before I had the desire to read it. Widely lauded as one of the most important works of science fiction as well as Ray Bradbury's greatest triumph. It would be an understatement to say I was a little intimidated when I picked it up.
Fahrenheit 451 was banned in some parts of the US during the Cold War period for containing some mild curse words and seemingly advocating Bible burning. (It is one of life's delightful little ironies that a book about censorship and book burning should be banned) of course the book never advocated any such thing but the book banning club never look at these things without prejudice.
The basic story is straightforward enough; Set in a society where learning is frowned upon and the population mill through life endulging themselves all day long. The main character is Guy Montag; a fireman, but not in the traditional sense. Bradbury's firemen don't put fires out, they start them with one despotic aim; to destroy books forever. Why? Reading books is strictly forbidden by the government on pain of death. When Montag rescues a book from a burning house and goes AWOL from the fire service his life begins to spin out of control. It isn't long before Montag is literally fighting for his life, forced to go on the run, a fugitive from the law.
Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most poignant and powerful books I have ever read. I would go as far as to say anyone who loves books should read this, even if they don't like science fiction. In truth it is hardly science fiction at all but just ordinary fiction set in a alternate future which contains a warning of the very real risk of this kind of thing happening on a large scale. It is a short book and only took a few days to read. I believe someone who loves books can't fail to find this chilling, moving and ultimately full of hope. A true ode to freedom and literature and just plain wonderful storytelling you don't find every day.
I don't usually put quotes from a book in my reviews but this is one of my favourite from the book:
“Most of us can't rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities in the world, we haven't time, money or that many friends. The things you're looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book”
Final verdict 5/5