I have had this book on my list for a couple of years now but only now did I get around to actually reading it. Every bookworm knows that the list of books to read is never ending so some get pushed to the bottom of the pile sometimes. However, I am glad that I read 1984 now, and not before. It is so current, especially in the wake of all the political changes we have been experiencing in the past year or so. Now I’m not the only one who feels this way as sales of Orwell’s novel went on a record rise after Trump was elected and more information about ‘alternative facts’ and fake news came to light. Here is a really interesting article delving into detail about the novel and it’s connection to present issues; 1984 Sales rise
So, going on to the actual review! From the first page, I was immediately drawn in to Orwell’s style of writing. The first line mentioning ‘the clock striking thirteen’ is also a surefire way to make you stop and ponder. I like the way Orwell writes, it is descriptive without being overly so and he says a lot without excessive prose.
You learn about the way the world within the novel works through the eyes of Winston Smith, the every man character. I think the fact that he is an average person, is really key. I certainly related to him. His desire for things to change but being unable to effectively make the flawed system better or express himself at times, is something I feel we can all relate to. That powerlessness drives him to take control in small ways, such as when he takes up writing and all that he produces is senseless, showing the ways he has been repressed. None of the characters are super fleshed out or have extreme depth but it leads you to notice the absence of personality, as a product of the world they live in perhaps?
There is a constant sense of anxiety and paranoia evident in the characters movements and it permeates throughout the novel and also got me feeling uncomfortable haha. Despite the novel being published in 1949, the issues of technology and surveillance is so current that it’s easy to see why so many people hail the novel for the way it deals with these topics. It is definitely ahead of it’s time.
I also found the way Orwell explores ‘mob mentality’ within the novel extremely interesting. There is a passage towards the start of the book where a group of his co workers are working themselves into a frenzy when viewing propaganda. Without being consciously aware of it, Winston himself is also partaking in this frenzy. It is only when he stops himself he realises his actions, I find this a really perceptive look into this collective mentality and again is so relevant to our world today.
With the risk of ruining the plot too much, I would recommend it to anyone who is in to hard hitting and / or dystopian novels. I rate it a strong 4/5, as I really enjoyed it despite the fact that it was a bit depressing at times. It does really make you think deeper and re evaluate certain ideas. I can also understand why some people dislike it and think it has elements of fear mongering or is too grim, but bear in mind the novel is based in a totalitarian world, it is meant to show how such a place may run. It is ‘extreme’ but I think that’s what makes it so powerful and frightening, it’s a world where free will or freedom of expression is non existent.
If you’ve read 1984, let me know what you think in the comments…
Until next time, Rumaanah x