Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

(No Series)
Drama, Classics

The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.

Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which, decades on from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.

“Don't ask for guarantees. And don't look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.” 

Before I start this review, let's be clear that I can't spell Fahrenheit to save my life. Every freaking time I have to see it to type it out. Grrr. 'Tis a difficult word.

This bizarre little book speaks intensely without using words to do it about how sad life's state can get when people become so cut off via slow censorship. When I was reading this book it felt like my mind was mentally all over the place, almost in some strange psychotic trance; heady stuff. It must be the authors style that did it, a talented man who can really alter perception with his writing. This alone helps illustrate the importance of this books theme. 

Reading this made me think more heavily about what could happen slowly to civilization as all books disappeared. We would be stuck to news and social media through the TV and internet only, without books in there of course. Popular opinions would be limited to media that was slowly corrupted and not published to shock or alter society opinion, no differing views all over the place stating reasoning of their decisions in clear, concise, checklist ways. No more poetry for young lovers to read to one another when dining, wining, and romanticizing their lives and hearts before life shatters it. No more empathy learned, developed, and nurtured by reading about the points of views of others through their eyes and living their shoes this way.

The world Bradbury weaved is psychologically twisted and strange - a nice place to study, but you wouldn't want to even VISIT there. The grimness and blah seeps off the pages and it seems everyone wants to die after awhile, where life is through the motions. The saddest thing is most don't even know that, they think they're happy of sorts but they're so brain-dead it's inevitable most of their "soul" has faded off before their body does. 

The ending was...well, very odd too. I don't want to provide spoilers, and I knew there was a war looming, but didn't expect THAT. The big machine thing was just disturbing, particularly a certain persons death. There's no telling whatever ended up happening to the survivors, we can only assume. The memory of the books being held and retold when occasion warranted in the men's minds pleased me -- instead of ink being typed into pages and preserved, it seems that once read the words soaked into their brains somewhere to come out when needed again.

Why then only 3.5 stars? Despite the creative genius story behind the book, the talent of the maker, the book just kept losing me. It's bizarreness was loosely held together and following it was a bit of a chore as the hero was so imbalanced and wishy washy in thought.

The best thing about the book was the end. Bradbury provided a few pages about the book and then ranted on censorship. Folks, he seemed incredible. His words were heartfelt, not held back, and just awesome. They inspire, heat, and ignite. Because of the authors words at the end more than this surreal book, makes me want to read more from him and only hope there is an autobiography somewhere out there he penned.

I started reading this one a week after the author's death in tribute, and also it was on my TBR list for awhile as a classic I meant to get to.  R.I.P. Ray Bradbury, may your memory forever remain!

   Author Afterword Segment:

A quote from his "Coda" at the end of the book:

"The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/Italian/Octogenarian/Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventh-Day Adventist, Women's Lib/Republican, Mattachine/FourSquareGospel feels it has the will, the right, to the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.

Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by minorities, each ripping a page or paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the libraries closed forever."

   Book Quotes:

“Stuff your eyes with wonder," he said, "live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”

 “There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”

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