Tyler Suzuki Nelson's Reviews > Brave New World

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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's review
Dec 23, 2011

really liked it
Read from April 16 to 29, 2012

Brave New World is a novel written by Aldous Huxley. It tells the story of several people in a fictional world where natural birth has been replaced by technology, social norms are implanted into children during their sleep, and escape takes the form of a drug called Soma. Although the book did tell the story of several characters living in this world, I found the world to be much more interesting than the characters themselves.

There is a lot to say about this world, though I will not address most of them here since they will come up in future blogs. One of the things I liked about Brave New World is that it illustrated some of the problems I see with the direction society often seems to be pushing to move. To be brief, I think Brave New World is a decent illustration of a society where happiness is attempted to be maximized; most people seem to assume that we should maximize happiness and minimize pain, sadness, etc. without considering the consequences. I also found that it illustrated a society where people avoid the truth and take what they are told to be the truth; that is, in some ways, I believe it demonstrated the need for critical thought in society.

The book also featured the use of Soma, a happiness- or peace-inducing drug. I thought it was both interesting and scary to think that society could manage to reach some sustainable equilibrium despite the need for a pill to keep people content. On the note of Soma, a quick search of the internet seems to reach a consensus that Soma is based on a historical drink. However, my initial interpretation of Soma was a reflection of the state of this Brave New World where there was plenty of sex but little love. I had interpreted Soma as Amos (Latin for "love") backwards, since Soma represented an instant emotional payoff which is backwards (that is, a contrast) to the emotional payoff often associated with love that isn't often so instantaneous.

Overall, I very much liked the ideas presented by this book. I thought it did a good job of demonstrating many of the flaws in a world that many people (probably unknowingly) acknowledge as an ideal world. However, although I found the ideas enjoyable, I didn't so much enjoy the style that the novel was written. There were many instances where I found the plot difficult to follow, and I never really connected with any of the characters. With respect to style, I preferred 1984, which, although also provided many interesting insights into a "perfect society", I found to be more enjoyable to read.

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