Stephen's Reviews > 1984

1984 by George Orwell
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I am a big fan of speculative fiction and in my literary travels I have encountered a myriad of dystopias, anti-utopias and places and societies that make one want to scream and..... Photobucket
...(with or without contemporaneous loss of bladder and other bodily functions)....

Simply put, George Orwell's 1984 is unquestionably the most memorable and MOST DISTURBING vision of a world gone mad utterly bat-shit psycho that I have ever experienced. Ever!!! Despite being published back in 1948, I have yet to find a more chilling, nightmarish locale than Orwell's iconic world of BIG BROTHER and INGSOC. The very mention of either of those terms invokes images of Nazis and Soviet gulags in my mind. Yet Orwell's creation is in many ways even more insidious than these real-world bogeymen.

I first read this book when I was 12 years old in 7th grade as a...get this...class reading assignment. Looking back on it, I have NO IDEA why on Earth we were reading this book at that age but I do recall we spent quite a bit of time discussing it. I wish I could recall the substance of those discussions because I can only imagine the kind of PIERCING INSIGHT that a group of hormonally challenged pre-teens thought up in regards to this book. Needless to say, I think that this is a book that is best appreciated AFTER your first pimple.

Anyway, I decided to re-read this book recently as an adult in the hopes that I would be able to gain a great appreciation for this classic. Well, the book did more than that. IT ABSOLUTELY FLOORED ME. From the very first sentence, "It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen" to the unforgettable final sentence (which I will not give away here), this story sucked me in, beat the living shit out of me and through me out the other side a hollow, wasted wreck. I know, it doesn't sound very cheery, but it is a life-changing experience.

I have always thought that one of the best and most important qualities of science fiction is that it frees the author to take the controversial, politically charged issues and trends of the day and create a possible future based on exaggerations of such trends and in so doing present a compelling and critical argument for change. Well NO ONE has ever done a better job than better Orwell in showing the possible nightmare (and thus potential danger) of a society without basic civil liberties and a government with complete and unchallenged control.

This book is bleak, dreary, frightening, upsetting and absolutely BRILLIANT and one of my "All Time Favorite" novels. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!! 6.0 stars.

...........REMEMBER, BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.............

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Comments (showing 1-37 of 37) (37 new)

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Lyndsey I completely agree! And as a twelve year old - there is NO way I could have appreciated this book. I mean at the time, I thought that Ender's Game was the most insightful book on the planet. But this is a must read for anyone, even those who aren't into dystopia.

And I love the Monty Python reference! :-)


message 2: by TK421 (new) - added it

TK421 I wish I could give you extra "likes" because of the Monty Python picture.


Stephen I figure you can never go wrong with a good Monty Python reference.


Stephen Lyndsey wrote: "I completely agree! And as a twelve year old - there is NO way I could have appreciated this book. I mean at the time, I thought that Ender's Game was the most insightful book on the planet. But th..."

Thanks Lyndsey. That Monty Python quote just seemed to fit perfectly.


Jeffrey I first read the book in high school in several different classes, and it happens that I was in college in 1984 and read it again in my English class and science fiction class as well. Its a great book, personally one of the best.


Stephen I agree...just goes to show you that quality books stand the test of time.


Zulfiya This is a brilliant example how a fun and dazzling review can also be thorough and compelling. Excellent job.


Stephen Zulfiya wrote: "This is a brilliant example how a fun and dazzling review can also be thorough and compelling. Excellent job."

Thank you, Zulfiya!


message 9: by Kat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kat I read it as a freshman in high school- it definitely haunts me still.


message 10: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate After reading your review, I really need to re-read this book.


Stephen Kat wrote: "I read it as a freshman in high school- it definitely haunts me still."

This one can definitely stay with you long after you put the book down.


Stephen Kate wrote: "After reading your review, I really need to re-read this book."

That's nice to hear, Kate. Thank you.


message 13: by mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday i read this one on mushrooms back in college, while listening to the eurythmics 'soundtrack' on my headphones. it was a bad trip!

i tried to encapsulate the bad trip in my review of the novel, but upon recently re-reading that review, i suddenly had a spasm of anxiety (maybe it was a flashback!) and had to edit out all the drug references.


Stephen mark wrote: "i read this one on mushrooms back in college, while listening to the eurythmics 'soundtrack' on my headphones. it was a bad trip!

i tried to encapsulate the bad trip in my review of the novel, ..."


I just read your review. I reall liked the phrase an "ending to make your heart shrivel." I think that is perfect as it is an unhappy classic. But I think I has to be.


message 15: by Stephanie (new) - added it

Stephanie I can't believe I haven't read this book yet. There should some list I should be put on for that. I think I'm scared.

great review.


message 16: by Lindsey (new) - added it

Lindsey Lang Stephanie wrote: "I can't believe I haven't read this book yet. There should some list I should be put on for that. I think I'm scared.

great review."


i'm so with you! i've been meaning to read it for years and finally picked it up at goodwill last month, hopefully i'll actually read it now!


Randy I first read this one in high school as well. I can't really explain why, but it's one of the few books I've read more than twice and one of the even fewer I've read more than a half dozen times in my sixty-one years. It just speaks to me I suppose.


The Pirate Ghost See what I mean? I love the review. I had to read this in High School and, I couldn't tell you what I got out of it... I'm glad I read it as an adult. Boy, how this might be applied to recent history? ...(yes, that's a cue the villian music)

Thanks Stephen. Another great review.


Stephen Kat wrote: "Stephen wrote: "I figure you can never go wrong with a good Monty Python reference."

So true.

P.S. Loved the review."


Thanks, Kat.


message 20: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Vasich One of my all time faves. And I love the fact that I actually read 1984 in 1984 (the first time, anyway). As a 13 year old, I did get a lot out of it, actually (I think it was because I was too nerdy for girls, so I had plenty of time to read). Among the many things that stick with me about this book are the scene in room 101 and the scene with Winston and Julia on the bench. Both are frozen in my brain.


Stephen Room 101 is stamped on my memory as well, Mike. That and the very last line of the novel, one of the best closing sentences ever.


message 22: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Vasich Yeah, that last line--"I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper." Classic stuff!


message 23: by Richard (last edited Jan 30, 2012 10:06PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Richard Mike wrote: "Yeah, that last line--"I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper." Classic stuff!"

Mike, for a minute there you had me believing that Orwell ripped his ending off from Star Trek! And you would have gotten away with it too, if I hadn't pulled my copy of the book off my shelves. But still a spocktacular joke!


Stephen Mike wrote: "Yeah, that last line--"I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper." Classic stuff!"

Well played, sir. Well played.


message 25: by Elen (new) - rated it 1 star

Elen Neuve George Orwell comletely ripped off his 1984 from Yevgeny Zamyatin 's We (published in 1921)
Yevgeny Zamyatin 's We novel is much better. I recommend it to everyone who liked 1984
Zamyatin E.Мы


Stephen I appreciate your enthusiasm for the novel, Lala, but having read both novels I found 1984 to be far superior. We is a good novel, but I preferred 1984 by a significant margin.

I also don't understand the "ripping off" comment. I don't see striking similarities between the two novels apart from both of them being dystopias. Can you elaborate?


message 27: by Elen (last edited Feb 14, 2012 04:37PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Elen Neuve George Orwell comletely ripped off his 1984 from Yevgeny Zamyatin 's We (published in 1921)
Yevgeny Zamyatin 's We novel is much better. I recommend it to everyone who liked 1984
Zamyatin E.Мы
Firstly, language and other stylistic and symbolic aspects are much better: We contains religious implications (references to the Bible) which 1984 is lacking. Commonly, countries with totalitarian regime forbid people to have any religious views.
Secondly, We is a story written by the real witness of creating of totalitarian regime (Bolshevism-Leninism-Stalinism) and personality cult (subsequently depersonalized and called Big Brother) or by allegedly a main character (as you wish).
Thirdy, it is a fact that Orwell has read We before writing 1984. And lets be frank Orwell has completely swiped the plot of the story with its major details.

Eventually,that is why it is easy to notice that We more truly depicts people`s life though it is anti-utopia.


message 28: by Simon (last edited Feb 14, 2012 05:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Simon I have to say that I agree with Stephen here, although "We" was obviously a major influence on "1984", Orwell took it to a new level, his dystopian vision being far more complete and devastating as he pursued the implications of totalitarianism to its logical extreme.

"We" is still a very good novel though and I also would recommend it to anyone who liked "1984", I just think that Orwell surpassed Zamyatin with his novel. It's undoubtedly largely a personal preference though.


message 29: by E.V.Franzmnn (new) - added it

E.V.Franzmnn E.V.Franzmnn I so need to read this book,,Oh, Is Big Brother season here in Brazil, BTW,, LoL


Chris Perfect review. I vividly remember reading this in grade 9, a year before we were going to read it in school, and being floored. It was the first time I read a book and went WOW! Fiction can be prescient, relevant even. It blew my mind and made me love books.

Also this line is classic, and so true "I think that this is a book that is best appreciated AFTER your first pimple. "

Thanks


message 31: by Willow (last edited Dec 07, 2013 08:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Willow Excellent, awesome review! You captured my feelings exactly. I remember the first time I read this I was in high school, and while I was intrigued by the story, I know I didn't feel the full power of Winston's loss. The second time I read it, I got tears in my eyes. Seeing Winston crushed like a bug is a gut wrenching experience, and what really stays with you is that we all know it could happen.


David W. I think it's a check to the social/political "loosening" that this book can now be openly sold in my country, both in Chinese and in original English.


message 33: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj lovely, lively review. thanks!


DeepTiNkEr5 I love the review!


Talitha Great review! Couldn't have said it better myself. Brilliant is the right word, and I think GR should create a '5+ amazing' button just for books like this.

I read Animal Farm in high school, and I'm actually glad I didn't read 1984 back then. Although I've always loved reading, as a teen I hated the mandatory school reads. I'm glad I read it as an adult, and it's my all time fav!

I was wondering, I'm currently reading Brave New World, how do other 1984 fans like that novel?


message 36: by David W. (last edited Sep 10, 2014 07:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David W. I've only scratched the surface of BNW, apparently the BNW world keeps the people down by mindless pleasure as opposed to poverty and mind-control like the 1984 world. I've read somewhere that the authors once argued against each other about which dystopia would "work" better.


Talitha Yes, but I do see similarities in concept, although differently executed. In 1984, thought is controlled by language. In BNW, people are conditioned to think a certain way. It is very different in the way people are controlled, but they are controlled nevertheless.

Of course, they both present a different world view and social critique, and I think both are very valuable. As a work of fiction however, I like 1984 better.


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