1984 by George Orwell
Book of the Month
Winston lives in a bleak, totalitarian world where his job is to rewrite newspaper articles to support present political propaganda. He has no joy and no love. His world is grimy, regimented, and callously violent. His conversations with other people are functional remarks or rituals of allegiance to Big Brother and the Party. Armed with ubiquitous surveillance and tools to indoctrinate the populace from the cradle, the Party seems to control everything. But they do not control Winston’s thoughts, and secretly he begins to rebel.
He writes a diary, he purchases antique remnants of the forgotten past, he forms an illicit romance, and he starts trying to remember and question what is real. He knows that if he is caught, he will be tortured and ultimately ‘vaporised’, but once he has started he cannot stop. These small gestures of self-expression—thoughtcrimes, his world calls them - are addictive, and Winston desperately searches for any hint that organised rebellion against the Party is possible. He longs to exist, not as a mindless drone, but as an individual. But what chance does he have in a nightmare of social control so complete that it does not just suppress free speech, it suppresses free thought?
In the end, what is most chilling about the social control in Winston’s world is its objective. Whereas Animal Farm was about a cycle of revolution and corruption, 1984 imagines that complex social mechanisms have been put in place to halt that cycle by detecting, containing, and eliminating dissent. The system is so ‘fair’ that no one is in charge. It is social control for its own sake. The people in 1984 work feverishly against one another to maintain the status quo, which is ‘a boot stamping on a human face - for ever’.
Written in the late 1940s and ostensibly set in a then-future world, 1984 has not dated despite its title. The society is evoked in a way that avoids relying on contemporary references, and the prose is deceptively simple. The Party’s ultimate method of destroying unorthodox thought is to limit language itself, and Orwell revels in the visceral verbs and nouns that the Party disallows. For me, what is most fascinating about 1984 is the way it shows us how dependent we are on language for our collective memory and understanding, and the power of language to empower. 1984 gave us a new vocabulary to identify and resist the political control of information, with terms such as thought police, Big Brother, doublethink, and thoughtcrime.
1984 is not only a classic of dystopian fiction, but one of the most influential works of fiction ever written.
This 1984 book review was written by Caroline Norrington
Have you read 1984?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
1984 reader reviews
Pearl from US
George Orwell was a seer, or at least he appears to be so. The parallels are astounding to the age of today when the State gains power and uses all factions of media to mold the thinking of it's citizenry. "Speech Crime", "Thought Crime", are punishable by death, histories of major and minor events are continuously rewritten to serve the State. Will Smith works for the "Ministry of Truth" and we find our protagonist well adept at his job rewriting captions for photos, changing a line here and there of past news stories. It's a society where it's almost impossible to keep a secret, your motives are constantly under scrutiny if you don't show up for "The week of hate", or if you aren't a member of this club or that club. Children are encouraged to be in a young spies club and turn in their parents if they don't adhere to the proper protocols. Privacy is a forbidden thing, there is simply no such thing and if you are out of view of a telescreen for any length of time, then even that is suspect. The story begins when he enters his room and out of the telescreens view he begins to write in an old blank diary just a few sentences. Will Smith has just defied the State. Will he survive his rebellion? Will Big Brother (The State) be one step ahead of him? As he begins an affair with a woman who belongs to an "Anti Sex League" he rolls the dice as he explores his human needs, to connect with another person on a deeper level where privacy is a crime in itself. I think Orwell is warning us that when the Government gets too powerful it will regulate supply/demand, thought/media, time/history, thought/action, even sex/love. There are some disturbing parallels in this book in todays culture (U.S.) (U.K.) that the younger generations must take to heart before they fully resign themselves or their children to this fate. We have been warned by wiser noggins. I'm pleading with you young people to read this book before it's banned and it's too late. George Orwell really was a seer, some have that gift. A MUST READ! This is a warning to us how an all powerful Government who pretends to be like a big brother looking out for you ultimately takes control of every facet of your life. This my "Speech Crime" for the day and I didn't give out any spoilers for this insightful masterpiece. I cannot recommend this book enough, I've read it about twenty times already, maybe more. We are headed there, pick up some pointers if we can't avoid this fate.
RaphaŽl from France
A must read. Powerful and unsurpassable, this is the apex of political fiction.
10/10 from 3 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothi...
The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boun...
Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen – from the Pres...
Oryx and Crake
Snowman may be the last man on earth, the only survivor of an unnamed apocalypse. Once he was Jimmy, a member of a scientific elite; now he lives in bitter isolation and lo...
The Last Man Standing
Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo wa...
The Drowned World
Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows ...
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
John Joseph Adams
Famine, death, war, pestilence. These are said to be the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse-Armageddon. The End of the World. Whether by nuclear warfare, a biological di...
The Crystal World
Through a ‘leaking’ of time, the West African jungle starts to crystallize. Trees metamorphose into enormous jewels. Crocodiles encased in second glittering ski...
Emily St John Mandel
What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty. One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whil...
An illness spreads through an unnamed city. It has only one symptom: blindness. It comes without fanfare, pain, or warning. One moment a man waits in his car at the traffic...
The Reapers are the Angels
God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe... Older than her years and completely alone, Temp...
Legends of the Red Sun
Mark Charan Newton
An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur. It’s a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where banshe...
The Return Man
The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness. They call it the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco ma...
A modern Britain. An age-old cruelty. Britain's magically skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years - and now it's the Hadleys' turn...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
What are Strungballs? Ten-year-old Sydney is about to find out... but first he must have a cube of his flesh removed. Sydney will transgress everything he was taught to believ...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own. New alliances and old feuds will remake the natio...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...