Stephen's Reviews > Brave New World

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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Nov 17, 2010

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bookshelves: audiobook, classics, world-in-the-shitter, science-fiction
Read from November 06 to 07, 2010

BabyClone v2

I need to parse my rating of this book into the good (or great), the bad and the very fugly because I thought aspects of it were inspired genius and parts of it were dreggy, boring and living near the border of awful. In the end, the wowness and importance of the novel's ideas as well as the segments that I thoroughly enjoyed carried the book to a strong 3.5 star rating.

THE REALLY GOOD/EXCELLENT - I loved the first third of the book in which the basic outline of the "Brave New World" and its devalued, conveyer belt morality is set forth. The narrative device employed by Huxley of having the Director of Hatchery and Conditioning provide a walking tour to students around the facility as a way to knowledge up the reader on the societal basics was perfect. We learn of the cloning/birthing process, the caste system and the fundamental tenets upon which the society is organized.
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This was as good a use of infodumping exposition as I had come across in some time and I was impressed both with the content and delivery method. The reader gets a crash course in world and its history in a way that fit nicely into the flow of the narrative without ever feeling forced. This was easily the best part of the novel for me, and Huxley's mass production-based society of enforced hedonism and anti-emotion was very compelling. Sort of like...
Mr_Spock-1 v2

Now, long jumping to the end of the novel...

I also thought the final "debate" near the story's climax between John (the "savage") and Mustapha Mond, the World Controller, was exceptional. This last chapter/ending of the book, while abrupt, was masterful and struck the proper chord with the overall theme of the book.

Thus, a superior 4.5 to 5.0 stars for this portion of the book.

THE BAD/AWFUL - I thought the middle of the book including both the trip to the "reservation" and John's initial return to London was a sleeping pill and felt disconnected from the rest of the narrative. Throughout this entire portion of the book, all I kept thinking was...
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The only purpose of this long, long.....LONG section seems to be to allow the reader to see Bernard Marx do a complete 180 in his views on the society once he finds himself in the role of celebrity by virtue of his relationship with John the savage. Sorry, this just did not strike me as a big enough payoff for this dry, plodding section. It was a test of endurance to get through this portion of the book, so I'm being generous when I give it a weak 2.0 to 2.5 stars. I could just have easily summed it up by just saying...
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Bottom-line, I think this is a book that should be read. It's important book and there is much brilliance here. Plus, it is short enough that the stale boring segments aren't too tortuous to get through. However, as far as the triumvirate of classic dystopian science fiction goes...1984 is still the undisputed champ.

3.0 Stars. Recommended.
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Comments (showing 1-42 of 42) (42 new)

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Stephen Brian wrote: "Aw, I love this book- but your review was pretty funny! I used to think 1984 was the champ and this was the runner up. Looking around at the world, I think they're about equal (for prescience/ rele..."

Thanks, Brian. I agree that they are both powerful and the worlds they describe are certainly worth paying attention to in light of the world around us. For me, it was just that middle section at the reservation that took away from my overall enjoyment. I felt jarred out of the narrative that had been developed in the first part of the book. Still, definitely one that people should read.


message 2: by Megha (last edited Apr 16, 2011 05:36PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Megha Nice review Stephen. I pretty much agree with you on your impressions of this book.
But I like Brave New World better than 1984. Largely because of the conversation between Mustapha Mond and the savage at the end. Mond actually provides reasons why he chose to follow the new world rather than the old one. Big Brother followers, on the other hand, never say as much.


Stephen mp wrote: "Nice review Stephen. I pretty much agree with you on your impressions of this book.
But I like Brave New World better than 1984. Largely because of the conversation between Mustapha Mond and the sa..."


Thanks, mp. I guess the reason I liked 1984 more was because it scared the crap out of me. I remember the sense of dread that hung over the entire story and the final sentence of the novel has stuck with me ever I read it. If the point of these novels is to show us a vision that we do not want to come to pass, then 1984 had a much bigger impact on me.

That said, I did still like this novel. It just didn't have as powerful an impact on me.


message 4: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye You guys (Stephen and Brian) are amazing.
Is there any way you can enter the third dimension and include sound effects on GR as well?
They're the only thing that's missing.


Stephen I would so love to be able to incorporate sound into the reviews...oh the possibilities!!!


Robert We need stereoscopic animated gifs! And those weird glasses...


message 7: by Nat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nat McLennan I pretty much agree with your review, however I was fine with the "reservation" part. I didn't enjoy the return to London as much when it focussed on Bernard because I really hated him. He was just so annoying for the book's entirity!
I thought the chapter where it was separated into all those different story lines was fantastic though, it just kept you reading!


Aaron O'Neill if i was a more creative this is exactly the review i wouldhave written. excellent. i had exactly the same feeling when reading this. great concept, but a bit of a struggle story-wise


Stephen Aaron wrote: "if i was a more creative this is exactly the review i wouldhave written. excellent. i had exactly the same feeling when reading this. great concept, but a bit of a struggle story-wise"

Thanks, Aaron.


Taiyesha-Duchess of Indiana Nice review. I read this book before I read 1984, of course i preferred 1984 by a long shot. Huxley was a student of Orwell's and sent him a draft of this novel hoping to receive some type of criticism or possibly accolades. Orwell never replied though :/


message 11: by ~Geektastic~ (last edited Mar 11, 2012 11:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

 ~Geektastic~ Nice breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses in this book. I read this one in high school, when I was in a "classic dystopia/apocalypse" phase and had my mind thoroughly blown. I'm curious as to how I would feel about it now.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

My "parsed" sentiments, exactly. Despite its flaws, I loved the ideas. "But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin.... I'm claiming the right to be unhappy."


Stephen Tai the Lioness wrote: "Nice review. I read this book before I read 1984, of course i preferred 1984 by a long shot. Huxley was a student of Orwell's and sent him a draft of this novel hoping to receive some type of crit..."

Thanks, Tai.


Stephen Amber ~Geektastic~ wrote: "Nice breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses in this book. I read this one in high school, when I was in a "classic dystopia/apocalypse" phase and had my mind thoroughly blown. I'm curious as to ..."

I liked it both more and less when I read it in high school. This time around, I enjoyed the world building and dystopian aspects even more, but I was also also less forgiving of the parts I found dull.


Stephen Steve wrote: "My "parsed" sentiments, exactly. Despite its flaws, I loved the ideas. "But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin.... I..."

Thanks, Steve.


Tyson I read this book in high school, but I don't remember a single thing about it.


message 17: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 11, 2012 04:56PM) (new)

It is hard to beat 1984.


Richard Inspired use of images, Stephen!


message 19: by Sath (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sath I have to say 'Yay!' at finding another person on my side in the 1984 vs. Brave New World debate!

Yay!


Marie Harbon Love the review, very creative!
Wonder if our views on writing style have changed recently, plus our attention spans. We seem to recognise tightness in a novel as standard now, with a faster reading pace plus, I think we've strayed away from detail. If Goodreads was around 20 years ago, I wonder what our reviews would say.


Stephen That is an interesting point, Marie. I hadn't thought of that but you may be right.


Stephen Sath wrote: "I have to say 'Yay!' at finding another person on my side in the 1984 vs. Brave New World debate!

Yay!"


I definitely prefer 1984 to both We and Brave New World. All three are important books, but 1984 haunts me.


Stephen Wesley wrote: "It is hard to beat 1984."

Too true.


Stephen Richard wrote: "Inspired use of images, Stephen!"

Thank you, good sir.


Becky Tai the Lioness wrote: "Huxley was a student of Orwell's and sent him a draft of this novel hoping to receive some type of criticism or possibly accolades. Orwell never replied though :/"

Maybe he was mad that Huxley filled in the gaps that Orwell forgot... the mindless entertainment aspect. The people will know Big Brother is watching, they just won't care because Jersey Shore is on. ;)


Stephen I sure wish some science types would read this and get to work on Soma...I'd love to see the Superbowl ads for that stuff.


Robert Um...I think it's called codeine! ;-)


Andrew Just finished Brave New World, and strongly agree with this review. Huxley's civilized society in this story is brilliant, but there were many dull parts to the story. Also, I'd like to throw a wrench into the 1984 vs. Brave New World debate (although I prefer 1984 in that comparison) with Fahrenheit 451. I think Fahrenheit 451 comes eerily close to our present society.


Robert Zverina Thanks for saving me the trouble of articulating my own review. One thing I might add which makes this book painful at times is when the obvious attempts at humor fall with a damp thud. Maybe it's dated or perhaps Huxley just couldn't pull off a thighslapper. The ideas behind the book are important and often prescient. To get at those nuggets it's a good idea to read "Brave New World Revisited" which can be enjoyed even without reading the novel first.


message 30: by J (new) - rated it 3 stars

J Nailed it!


John Mark Great review. I'm currently stuck in limbo as I trudge through the middle of this book.


Answer Exactly what I thought of the book! I enjoyed the early parts of the book but then almost gave up reading it in the middle. It's just terrible I was almost skimming instead of reading it! Good thing I didn't give up though as -you're right- the part on conversation between Mustapha Mond and John was the best bit of the book :)


Jason Li Great review! and although in a small way i agree with what you meant by the breaking of pacing in the middle and later part of the book, overall i think it was an important part of the experience. Firstly Brave New World is short, it's amazingly short but powerful so the "dull" moments passed by quickly and the ideas that came from it took over. What I mean by that, and secondly, is that Bernard and the Savage returning home from the reservation was core to understanding and contrasting the society we have been so thoroughly shown in the first half of the book. It answered a question of mine, is it really too late to bring back poetry, true love and creativity? And we all know the answer by the end...and I think that idea is incredibly powerful, without it, the book would have lost its value, it would have been just a story tale about what the future of society would become which although would still be good, it would not have the effect it has had in the last few decades. And by the way, that ending was absolutely incredible!


Mafalda (Rach) Simple and straight to the point review. I agree, I've actually heard a lot of people complaining about the beginning of the book and how technical and uninteresting the info dumping was but I really liked the way it chose to do it. The middle part had some thoughtprovoking themes, even if the way it was executed and paced wasn't the best, those elements kept me going. And the finale had such beautiful dialogue. Okay, I need to read 1984 now :).


message 35: by Warren (new)

Warren My feelings exactly. I also thought the retelling of John's early life was cliched and awkward; and Huxley's prose throughout rather clunky. Still, the underlying brilliance makes the book a must-read.


message 36: by Warren (new)

Warren Taiyesha-Duchess of Indiana wrote: "Nice review. I read this book before I read 1984, of course i preferred 1984 by a long shot. Huxley was a student of Orwell's and sent him a draft of this novel hoping to receive some type of crit..."

Wrong way round. Orwell was briefly a student of Huxley's at Eton. Some 3 decades later, Huxley wrote to Orwell, critiquing 1984.


message 37: by Pedro (last edited Jul 23, 2015 05:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pedro Filipe Exactly!! I read your comment and i was like "This is exactly what i think"
At the begining i was totally captivated but then it all came crashing down from the moment they went to the reservation and it all became a telenovela for me.
Then towards the end the conversation between the savage and the big boss seemed like a light at the end of the tunnel... And sadly it was only an Well played illusion.
And the finale... No comments.
I was quite disappointed because it'se a great concept and it could have been explored a lot more.
Guess the next step is to read 1984.


message 38: by Spellcoat (new)

Spellcoat Totally agree with your review. Which is why the book stands DNF at 55% on my bookshelf - just couldn't get myself to trudge through the second half. If anyone wants to read this classic, I would recommend just reading the first half of the book for its dystopian concepts. I think the book would have benefitted from some editing and would have done better as a novella.


Malinda I COMPLETELY agree with you! I found myself loving the beginning and end portions of this book but the middle was just too dense to give it anything higher than a 3. As you said though, everyone should read it at least once.


Renata Exactly how I felt


Francisco Cebrián That is how I felt reading this book. You have explained it very well so I think I don't have to post my review now.


message 42: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy Totally agree with this review


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