Book Review of 1984

1984
1984
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
reviewed on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


I didn't know much about this book until I saw it in the "banned book list" in the library and picked a copy. I vaguely know it has something to do with Big Brother and an Apple ad, but nothing else. (Nothing piques your curiosity like stamping "banned" on it, I can tell you.)

I'm glad I read it though. I think my perspective will probably differ somewhat from the typical American (Western) reader's, but I find the book rather amusing, especially the early parts. It reads like a satire to me, and many times I had to chuckle to myself "yeah, that's so true". It's like watching Saturday Night Live where everything is a slightly exaggerated spoof of the real thing. I grew up in a communist country, so I can appreciate a lot of practices mentioned in the book, for example the ever-watchful eyes around you, the banning of true romances, the need for Party-arranged marriage, the practices of unperson (including the act of removing references to someone from text or photos), the de-emphasis of personal feeling, the heavy bureaucracy, the adulation of the paramount leader, etc. (Although truth be told, on the last point the book probably pales compare to the current practice in North Korea). It's scary, it's suffocating, it's depressing, but it's so true. At first I thought that Orwell was so far ahead of his time, since at the time of the publication, there was no Asian communist countries to speak of. But now that I've read more about Stalin's USSR, I realize he got his inspirations from there. Still, pretty insightful book if you've never lived in that system before.

(Many people commented that it's a dystopian society in the future. Well I can tell you that there have been times in history in certain countries where it was very very close to being the reality. You should be thankful you're living in a society where you can afford to think it's way off in the future :)

Apart from the satirical content, I also find one idea very insightful (it's in the content of the little revolt book), and that is the suggestion of a 3-tier society, and how they've been interacting and probably will continue interacting till the end of time. I find it so funny, in fact I laughed out loud when I got there. Here you go, all the revolutionary thinkers and philosophers of the world, thinking their brain off (and at the cost of sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands, and sometimes millions of lives) about how to have a better society. And yet all they do is just to rehash and repeat what Mr Orwell has so clearly described before. It's what come closest to capture TRUTH compared to all the other things you see each day (Michael Moore, Occupy movement, Congress, Wall Street, the NK Kim Dynasty, Gengis Khan, the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, even the American Revolution, and so on). Isn't it amazing?

The last thing I really like about the book is the love story. I love the love story. Some people will see it as cold, bleak, unromantic, etc, but I see it as having everything: warmth, tenderness, playfulness, longing, heart. It's love, period. Especially the girl, she's obviously been described by the author as "the girl of your dream". She's hard to come by, but if you happen to know her, try to grab her heart before it's too late.