I started going to another new book club a few months ago, really liked it, kept going back and this was the most recent read.
While it’s a pretty bleak futuristic outlook, I was surprised to find that no-one at the group enjoyed it. The first two-thirds were a bit depressing, but during the last third it became quite hopeful.
So, in case you don’t know, Fahrenheit 451 is told from the point of view of Guy Montag. He’s a fireman, but not any traditional type of fireman. In the society he inhabits the firemen are the ones that start the fires. Literature is illegal and Guy and his team are called out to any place that’s been found out to be hording books. Their mission is then to destroy them with, you guessed it, fire.
One day Guy meets a young girl, Clarisse, on the street and they strike up a conversation. They just talk-nothing funny going on here, she’s seventeen and he’s married-and she re-establishes his interest in the things their society mocks, such as books, nature, conversation. Not long after this he decides he wants to quit being a fireman. He’s sick of living the way he has been and vows to change their world in any way that he can.
The world the book describes is shocking in many ways, but more than that, it’s just plain sad. The world here has lost its gloss. No-one talks to anyone anymore, at least not in a leisurely way and everything is done at such speed that nothing can be fully experienced. In today’s world we’re pressured to be constantly productive/useful and I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to slow down. This book really highlights what we lose by constantly striving to do more/be more.
It becomes a lot more positive in the last third when Guy meets a group of men who serve to save literature by keeping the stories from the burnt books inside their heads. What’s showcased here is the power of the mind. While a lot of the book was bleak, it was ultimately uplifting in the way that it highlighted the ingenuity of man.
The writing didn’t flow very well and there were some problems, such as Guy making such an abrupt shift in his outlook on life-not to mention the mechanical dogs! It’s definitely worth investing the time in though, especially since it’s so short.