Updated April 2013: Third or fourth time I've read Brave New World, and I'm taking it down from four stars to three. It felt a bit more dated, a littl...moreUpdated April 2013: Third or fourth time I've read Brave New World, and I'm taking it down from four stars to three. It felt a bit more dated, a little less relevant, than it has on other reads in the past. There's a quaintness about it that feels false or overly conservative to me now. Society is portrayed as backwards because there's no religion, for example. It's still interesting satire, and visionary in many ways, but there's a clear "right" sort of lifestyle it's out to contrast that doesn't always make sense.
Original review: If you could have a life of happiness and leisure, you'd want that, right? Maybe not, if the cost was some personal freedom or a loss of depth and meaning in your life, or if you thought you might get bored or too soft and spoiled. But then, what if you wouldn't even think to worry about that because you'd been genetically and behaviorally conditioned not to? This is what Brave New World tackles. I thought it might be something like a dire vision of the future, a la 1984, but it isn't the same kind of scary. 1984 was about a horrific world dominated by fear and pain, but BNW goes to the extreme in the other direction, where there's so much distraction no one cares about anything else. Society is overly docile and unimaginative and copes with even the most minor problems by escaping with ubiquitous drugs. [See an interesting thematic comparison of the two.] Huxley was definitely on to something... But it's not black and white, either. Where 1984 projects an unambiguously bad possible outcome for everyone, one's opinion of what exactly is wrong with BNW's society is debatable. Different readers will find different aspects frightening, offensive, or immoral, but one might also wonder if that society doesn't at least have a few things going for it. Overall, a really interesting and important read. (less)