Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Not quite sure what to make of that.

Guy Montag is a firefighter, but in this world it means starting fires rather than putting them out. In this dystopian future, all novels are banned and anyone found with books are taken away and their house and all their possessions are set on fire. He seems happy enough in his world until a chance encounter with an enigmatic girl called Clarisse makes him start to question everything that he’s taken for granted.

You’ll probably hear about how prescient it is, and some parts are surprisingly so. TV’s that take up whole walls are here, though rare, and the interactive element is not disimilar to the internet. The nature of the shows that we hear about will also ring a lot of bells and how people vote in elections will also sound very familiar. Now there are bits that seem very out of place, such as mechanical killer dogs, but considering this book is over sixty years old, I’m surprised more isn’t.

I’ll be honest I found this book a mix of contrasts. It’s a short book, only a couple of hundred pages but some parts seemed a bit stretched out and others felt rushed. It’s a weird focus in the book, most of it is on the banning of books, and the quotes that take up whole sections contribute to that feeling of bloat in places. However the whole killing of people, and teenagers encouraged to drive around killing others and hopefully themselves is kind of glossed over. Very strange. I found out after that is started as a novella and was expanded later to this so that kind of explains it.

Montag is an interesting character, at first you feel that this awakening is a sudden thing but then you find out it’s been going on longer than that. I actually found him a bit bland and it’s the supporting characters that interested me more. Clarisse is basically a manic pixie dream girl but Mildred, Montag’s wife, is the best. I kind of wish there was a POV from her, she appears so superficial but there’s more going on than it seems and you never know where she stands. The fire chief Beatty is also great, a mass of contradictions and a bit of an enigma.

The story did keep me interested though I did find myself glazing over in places. I found the narrative almost dreamlike in places and hard to follow sometimes but overall it wasn’t bad. I’m glad I read it though I doubt I will again. An interesting read.

3.5 stars rounded down.

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