Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

18295788 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

4 stars (originally 2 stars)

Check out my original review here.

The story behind Guy Montag is an ironic one. Montag is a fireman who burns books and as the novel progresses becomes obsessed with retaining books and the information within them to make sense of the world around him. Bradbury is a staple science fiction writer and his tales spoke of warnings to society about the reliance of technology. I was originally introduced to Montag’s story of a fireman whose job is to burn as a freshman in high school. Interestingly enough, I read the book in April of 2013 and four years later as a freshman in college I’m reading Fahrenheit 451 again for an essay on book banning and challenging. I originally gave this book 2 stars, which seems harsh but also understandable. Younger Sarah did not like classics and referred to this novel as being “older than my mom so it’s original in my opinion”. Young Sarah gave no fucks about the classics and hated metaphors according to my prior review. I don’t agree with Young Sarah at all. I was very callous and wasn’t able to see a world without books, even ones I didn’t like, but as I’ve done more research and see how books are still challenged today I see the importance of a novel like this.

Is Bradbury the perfect writer? Absolutely not. His writing can be a little sluggish when pacing falters and a lot of this novel is spent of reflecting and imaging. It’s not the most immersive pacing, but the words that Bradbury has put on the page are striking and remain with the reader. I also, love Bradbury’s metaphors. As time goes on and I become a more well-rounded reader, I look for novels that have meaning and substance. This novel has that and while not all novels that have meaning speak to me, this one does because I believe our society has and will always be one that prefers technology to conversations and thought. It is how our society has shaped and it’s not a bad thing, but it has left humans disconnected from one another. Relationships are not built on the same foundation that once were and sadly, Montag and Millie’s relationship perfectly captures a couple who doesn’t know why they are together and don’t feel a connection to each other because screens and “the family” block that both. Maybe I sound cynical, but I see it every day with couples and not all couples are like this, but the majority is now. A lot of people feel that Bradbury’s novel is outdated, but I disagree. I feel like Fahrenheit 451 is mirroring the twenty-first century more and more every day.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3.75

The main male character is Guy Montag. I don’t have a connection to Montag and when it comes to dystopian novels his character is one that seems to be confused, panicked, and I can’t connect to him. Montag pales in comparison to Offred or Winston Smith because his personality doesn’t make me feel for him. He also doesn’t have very many memories of the past and this disconnection to his past makes it hard to connect to him.

Swoon Hero Worthy Scale: 3

This is a very small novel, but there is a large cast of characters that cement Montag’s journey from a burner of books to a reader of books. The cataclysm for his journey is Clarice, a neighbor who likes to ask questions and takes walks. Montag’s interactions with Clarice lead him to seeing the world and looking at things, like the moon, that he previously ignored. Clarice dies unexpectedly and her death leads to him taking higher level risks than his previous ones. Millie or Mildred is Montag’s wife and we are first introduced to her in a comatose state due to sleeping pills. Immediately, her stomach is pumped and she is brought back to life and her existence continues. Millie is an odd character because she is perfectly paints what an individual obsessed with TV looks like and while today TV isn’t obsession iPhones create Millies by the billions every day. She likes to drive fast in the beetle to feel alive and she remains a disconnected individual towards her husband. Faber becomes a friend and ally to Montag when it comes to books. I really liked Faber’s interactions with Montag and he called himself a coward which is a very brave statement to make because most cowards deny cowardice, but he saw that he could do something and hid in house. Beatty is a confusing character. He seems to be the villain because he is the Captain of the Firemen, but as we see at the end this is not the case. I have a strong feeling that Beatty loved books and didn’t want to live in a world where books could not be read. He was constantly quoting books and writers under the guise of haggling or expressing how unnecessary books are, but someone who doesn’t value books would have no need to express his feelings through quoting others. In the end, Montag finds a group of men who have become books. It’s a really interesting concept and the feeling of hope at the end of the novel after a war breaks out and destroys the city. I’m quite happy with the way Bradbury has ended Fahrenheit 451 because it feels like a new beginning.

Character Scale: 4

Overall, my thoughts on Fahrenheit 451 have changed drastically. I originally didn’t like this book very much and I do think it was because I was too young to have appreciated in. My reading tastes at the time were not looking for a novel like 451 and being forced to read it did not help. I recommend this to anyone who loves Bradbury or dystopian novels. I feel like this novel is a staple to the dystopian genre and any fan should pick this novel up.

Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: My edition is a book of matches. Literally, matches within a book! I love my edition so much and I’m happy to own a copy of this novel.

Have you read Fahrenheit 451? Have you ever read a book that you didn't like and enjoyed later after rereading? What's you favorite dystopian novel? Let me know down below in the comments!

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