1984 by George Orwell: Review

I’ve been meaning to read 1984 for about three years now. I took it with me on my very first international flight thinking I’d read it on the plane. Of course, I ended up being horribly sick the whole ten hour flight and didn’t do any reading at all. Then I kept planning to read it, and meaning to read it, and thinking it would be the next book I read, etc. But it never happened until now, and I have to say that the wait wasn’t really worth it.

I was pretty excited about reading 1984. I’d heard it talked about as something like the father of the dystonian genre, which is a genre that I’m generally very fond of, and I was really excited to see what it would be like. At first I was intrigued. I didn’t find Winston to be the most engaging or likable character, but I didn’t hate him, and, as someone who wasn’t completely brainwashed by the Party, I thought he was alright as a protagonist, if not particularly interesting. But the farther I got into the novel the more bored and disappointed I got. I felt like it mostly just went in circles with Winston thinking about the past, and the party, and reality, wash, rinse and repeat. When Julia came in I was ready for things to get a bit more exciting. They didn’t. I could never bring myself to like Julia. Sure, she was rebelling against the Party, but not because she felt that the Party needed to be over thrown, or because she believe that humanity deserved better, but just because she wanted to have sex and the party told her not to. Basically I found her pretty shallow. And, although the “love story”, if you want to call it that, between Winston and Julia was certainly something that could have put a bit of excitement into the book, it ended up just providing different settings for Winston to go on having the same musings that he had been having throughout the book.

As much as I generally disliked the vast majority of this book the ending definitely takes the prize for least favorite part. Maybe I’m just a sucker for happy endings, or maybe I just don’t like a novel that completely undermines the idea that we are all independent people with unique thoughts and experiences who are capable of more than base feelings and self preservation, but, whatever the case, the ending did not work for me.

Of course, I understand that 1984 is meant to make you think about human nature, human society, what makes us ‘us’, what’s true, the importance of the past, human bonds… I could go on. I do understand that. I saw it, and it made me think, which is good, but it tried to make me think to much. I guess it was just too in your face with the message. That being said, I do understand why this book as as highly respected as it is, and I would even say it is worth a read so long as you understand what you’re getting yourself into, which evidently I did not.

Final rating? 2/5 I gotta give it a couple points just because it was well written and it does accomplish it’s purpose in making you think, but I can’t give it more than that because I really just didn’t enjoy it. It was just so depressing. Yes it’s worth reading, but no, it’s not something to read if you want to actually enjoy what you’re reading.


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