I have been meaning to read this book for what feels like forever and since I read The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury I have been ever keener to get my hands on this. Luckily I got it for Christmas and knew it had to feature on my TBR early this year.
I didn’t know what to expect from this book as I had heard so many good things about it and didn’t really know what it was about. I had heard many people’s reviews that had said it was shocking, life-changing, and thought-provoking and I have to agree it was all of the above. Fahrenheit 451 written in 1953 is set in the future where firemen don’t put out fires but instead start them. Firemen are called out to burn houses where books are found as they are banned material that spreads lies, encourages thinking and causes unhappiness.
Montag is the main character who lives in an unhappy marriage and burns books daily as a fireman, he is unhappy with his life, his wife ruled by material items, dependent on sleeping tablets and ‘keeping up with the jones’s’ as the saying goes. There is great emotional and physical turmoil as Montag starts to see the blandness that has become of life in these times. Montag starts to question this way of life and the importance of books, he starts to see the flaws in his career as not only books and homes are dying but people too.
I found this book shocking as so many criticisms that Bradbury had back in 1953 are relevant to today such as dependency on television, material items, speeding in cars to get from one place to the next and probably the most shocking of all there’s a part in the plot that discusses physical books becoming less popular because of technology which sparked their eventual banning and burning.
Then begs the question why are books so important to readers? We are so dependent on them for escapism, knowledge, entertainment and more. It’s hard to imagine a world without them and yet this book is horrifying because there is some truth in it despite being written over 60 years ago. One part of the book when Montag reads a poem called Dover Beach to his wife and her friends shows the power of literature, as one of Mildred’s friends starts to cry without explanation. Not knowing the power of reading it is a very distressful excerpt as she cries not understanding why and causing a mild panic in the room. From this the book becomes fast paced and exciting, Montag must run and gives up his career, house, wife and life all for the protection of books and knowledge.
This is definitely a modern classic for me and I can only imagine the questions this book sparked back during its release. I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and I know this seems a little low for how much I enjoyed this book however there are a few reasons for it. The writing in this book made it a little harder to read and I did find it hard in places to carry on. It’s a poetic prose with in-depth descriptions, alliteration and lots of onomatopoeia, it was beautiful to read but in some aspects I found it stunted the plot. The main idea was very intriguing and thought-provoking, I just found at times the writing slowed the plot. However I highly recommend this book and it’s one that everyone should read at least once, for such a short book it doesn’t take long to read but it does take time to ponder.