Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is one of those “Classic” books I’ve never read. Most classes in my high school read it, but since I was in the honors’ section, my teacher said, “You all have probably read 451 because you’re smart, so we’re going to do Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Well, guess I showed her! (Though I must admit that teacher is/was brilliant).

The Book

51vsfbzlu2blFahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
1953
Amazon Link

I’ve never really been interested in this book. I know it’s about censorship, and I know the premise is that the book is about a man who burns seditious material for a living. Something about it has just made me never care to read it before.

Also, just as a note, I got a copy from the library and the cover looked terrible. I liked the HBO-film inspired cover they have on Amazon, so that’s what I put here.

Non-Spoiler Review

At least now I understand why this book is so popular among English classes. With an English professor as part of the hero team and with literary and appreciation of artistic talent a major portion of the message, this novel is a fantastic, ego-stroking, self-serving kind of book for anyone who wants to feel good about being an artist.

And that made me mad at most high-school teachers but very proud of mine.

First, I found the premise entirely untenable. A society in which education is limited will not advance, and societies that don’t advance in this day and age will fall behind and be obliterated either by revolution or outside intervention. Even North Korea, which lags behind because of terrible abuses of power, can boast of inventions and efforts to modernize in some (crazy and terrifying) aspects. The society in 451 seems so ridiculous to me.

As well, the female characters were vapid, useless objects. I tell myself, “Oh, that was a product of the times,” but then I look at my review of Twain’s works and realize that he was more reasonable in the 1800’s than Bradbury was in 1953. I also thought Montag’s weird attraction to 16-year old Clarisse a bit… disconcerting.

When I think about the theme of censorship, I find this book a reasonable example of an anti-censorship book. That being said, it was ad absurdum, and I usually don’t like that sort of thing.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The story as a whole was rather plain. It was about a guy who did something illegal, then ran away and found company with others who were like him. There wasn’t much to it, really. I’d never read the book, but I still could predict every single plotline and didn’t care when the next chapter was revealed.

This book should be read almost exclusively for its themes and metaphors. That is where this book shines. That being said, I didn’t enjoy it, and I’m glad I don’t have to read it again.

Oh, another thing: mine had an afterword from Bradbury where he complained about efforts to censor Fahrenheit 451. It was incredibly insensitive and made me question the value of the intent behind 451. I suggest not reading it.

Next week:

I’m very hype to get to The Alienist. I’d never heard of it before this month, and I can’t imagine something with that premise could suck. Tally ho!

16 thoughts on “Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

  1. D. Wallace Peach says:

    It’s kind of amazing (well, maybe not since 1953 is over 65 years ago) how quickly society changes and how that dates a book. I haven’t read this one and will likely never give it a try. Thanks for the warning!

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Haha! I think if one reads it as a teenager, it’s more likely to leave an impression and give you that nostalgia feeling when you read it again. As an adult? I’m just not sure it held up for me over the 65 years it’s been around.

  2. robertawrites235681907 says:

    This is a very controversial book and some people love it and some hate it. It has the most one star ratings I’ve ever seen for a book on Amazon but also loads of five star reviews. I loved it. I found it very though provoking. I think Bradbury was depicting a society that has passed its zenith and is on the decline so it is going backwards and no longer progressing. The leaders are trying to maintain the status quo without allowing for any controversy and difference of opinion. It is a bit like the society H.G. Wells depicts in The Time Machine, except H.G. Wells was much more advanced into the decline.

  3. joanne the geek says:

    I’ve never read it either, and I probably won’t now. I’m disappointed that Bradbury didn’t write better female characters. That’s something I do watch out for. It seems a fault for a lot of male science-fiction writers in the 1950s.

    Recently I read Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I highly enjoyed it and really loved his writing style. That I do recommend. Maybe I should do a review of that sometime….

  4. Souveek says:

    This was my first time reading Fahrenheit 451. I agree that the story is somewhat plain. but the book is a treasure chest of themes, motifs and allusions. I had assumed it to be a difficult book to read and the third part was kind of haphazard for me. Most likely because in the third part, Montag’s life was haphazard. He had lost everything in life that he had worked for, his wife had abandoned him, the State was looking for him, he was on the run. In such a situation, if Montag was experiencing some mental breakdown, it wouldn’t be out of ordinary. His sense of reality was blurred and he was in a war, both mental and physical. This, I believe was the reason for my confusion and hence difficulty in following through everything happening with Montag. I feel that our reality is not much different from Montag’s. Poor education that encourages rote learning, commercialisation of religion, burning books, burning libraries, stifling free speech by bribing, threatening, killing journalists, are events that we have witnessed in the past. People are least bothered about their neighbours, community and humanity. We are least bothered about war in another part of the world as long as it does not impact us.
    In such a society, I feel Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a cautionary tale.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I understand where you’re coming from, and I dig that it speaks to your truth. One of the things I’ve discovered since starting my series of reviews is that I hate everything – so I can appreciate a person who has some likes.

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