Retro Review: Fahrenheit 451

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Published: January 1953
Publisher: Ballantine Books [1973 ed.]
Genres: classic, sci-fi, dystopian

Synopsis (www.goodreads.com)

The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.

Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which, decades on from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock.

I had a wide variety of reactions to this book... the strongest being how relevant it is to our society in 2016! (#Trump2016!)

**Also, I do hereby decree that you may NOT read this in e-format, as there's a scratch n' sniff portion, which would be best served by reading a used or borrowed book at LEAST 10 years old or older.**
First I have to say that it's pretty clear that Ray Bradbury was NOT a jock in high school, and most likely resented "sports players" as he basically accuses them of having no brains to think with, insinuating that playing sports was a mindless waste of time, and schools were just trying to tire people out so they couldn't think for themselves. I'm pretty sure Ray and I would have been friends... Smoking cigarettes in a resentful bookclub called The Happy Outsiders, or something...

Because it's people on the outskirts of "the norm" that can have this birds-eye-view of our society, and the possible roads we can go down. While reading, I kept trying to picture what was making Bradbury so angry in 1953 and then it came to me: Mad Men

The TV show Mad Men (2007) brought to light the power that advertising had/ has on society. And while the series focused more on the 1960's, Bradbury's resentment was already quite fired up by 1953; TV and ads were telling people what to eat, drink, buy, and think. He didn't blend in in high school, and apparently still felt that way at age 33 (I mathed that out...).

If I had to write a thesis for a book report, I think it would centre around the idea that Bradbury doesn't necessarily want everyone to think like HIM but to think for THEMSELVES, as evidenced in Montag's interactions with the professor. Which is one of the many reasons I think that this book should be on every high school syllabus, especially in this age of technology and the instant access to information from any source, reliable or not. I'm kind of creeped out, because I think that Bradbury could be a prophet of sorts; the mindless squabbling that Montag's wife partook in with their "TV walls" had me picturing the pundits on Fox TV.  (#thanksObama)

Also, at this moment in history, empty-headed bully Donald Trump has a scarily good chance of becoming president of the United States. A parallel can be drawn when, while supporting Montag against his fervently persuasive boss, the professor laments, "oh God, the terrible tyranny of the majority." Seriously, America, wtf?!

I've always wanted to read Fahrenheit 451, and it wasn't until I read Kimberly Derting's The Taking, where a high school boy kept reverently referencing it, that made me want to pick up the book and connect the dots. I think this book would have made my high school heart sing, and wish I had read it 20 years ago!

It's simultaneously sad and amazing that Fahrenheit 451 is still relevant in today's society; if Donald Trump becomes president, I think Canada should build a wall. And we'll totally pay for it; we have trees coming out of our butt!

And on that highly intellectual note, I bid you adieu! Keep on reading, Spinning Jenners!! #Don'tLettheJocksWin #sarcasm

~ Spinning Jenny

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