Jul 04, 07
Read in January, 1999
As a teenager I went through a period of reading a vast number of distopian novels - probably all the teenage angst. This is the one that has continued to haunt me however, long after the my youthful cynicism has died it's death. It's basically a book about the utopian ideal - everyone's happy, everyone has what they want and EVERYTHING is based on logical principles. However, there is something very rotten at the heart. It's about how what we want isn't always what we should get. It looks at how state sponsered "happiness" can entirely miss the point. Perhaps, most importantly, it makes the case for individual freedom rather than authoritarian diktat. It should be read hand in hand with Mill's Utilitarianism to get a good idea of the philosophy that inspired it.
Incidentally, I gave this book to my boyfriend as a present for his 18th birthday ( a rather depressing gift I know). At the time he wasn't particularly freaked out by it and said that it didn't hold the same level of dread as say, 1984 or "The Handmaid's Tale". As he's got older however, he's found the idea more and more frightening. Six years later it has more of a sting in the tail for him. I don't know why this should be but I'll hazard a guess that as you get older you're idea of "happiness" becomes perhaps more complex, making the ideal of "Brave New World" even more disturbing.