Nineteen Eighty-Four is a politically themed dystopian book written by George Orwell, and is centred on a controlled Socialist society in the UK that answers to the Inner Party and their leader, Big Brother.
I had heard a lot about this book and how good it was, thus I decided to read it and see for myself. What did I think though? Read on to find out!
NOTE: This is a simple review. I will only be looking at how good the plot was, how good the characters were and whether it was hooking or not. I wasn’t going to read between the lines and try to get right under the words because I felt it was more effort for a book I was reading for enjoyment.
The story starts off pretty simple. We’re introduced to our main character waking up from bed, going through their morning routine and then see the rest of their day play out, as well as what goes through their head. This kind of introduction was mediocre to me because of how ordinary it was, but I still wanted to read on to see what else happened.
Unsurprisingly, once I was out of the introductory part, I was greeted with more information about the society/party. Newspeak words and ministries were being explained, and as much as it was intriguing, I began to forget the words shortly afterwards. Whenever they popped up I couldn’t be bothered to learn what they meant again. It sounds lazy, but when you’re trying to find enjoyment out of a story, you don’t want to have to keep going back to an index to remind you what ‘Ingsoc‘ means.
Aside from the words and sentences that required effort and deep reading to understand, I thought that the rest story was definitely entertaining, with some parts a little scary, especially if you imagined it to be a reality. Citizens were expected to show no emotion and to have little interaction with anyone, and if the Inner Party saw any suspicious behaviour, then they would go after you. The amount of party power and the constant observation of the Outer Party citizens was just unnerving, but at some points I wanted something exciting to happen because it was the same old thing that was the looming over the characters. The fear was annoying, and I welcomed any other emotion or feeling that wasn’t fear. I understand that it was trying to portray realistic behaviours and actions from such a society and its’ people, but with my kind of taste, I wanted some sparks and was a little disappointed.
Plot Rating: 1½ out of 4 Stars
Winston Smith is the main character in this story, alongside Julia (who is introduced later in the book). There were no immediate thoughts or feelings about Winston, but as I read on a little bit, I thought that he was an average Joe who just wanted to get through the day like most people. This made him a relatable character in my eyes because everyone would do what he did and secretly hold a hatred for the Inner Party whilst retaining a submissive exterior. Additionally, it was later made clear that he was a little bit old (perhaps 40’s/50’s) and had little muscle mass, therefore I pictured him as a skinny ageing male. This image of the character actually made me like Winston a bit more because it wasn’t the typical description the comes with most main character’s and I liked that. He was someone who just wanted to feel emotions freely and think freely without worrying about consequences, but in the end the cost of freedom would ruin him.
As for Julia, I thought she was a strong character who was important in the character development of Winston because of the ‘don’t care’ she emitted when around him. She was a woman who wasn’t scared and maintained a confidence that helped Winston with his weariness about going against the Inner Party’s rules. Although at times I thought she was cold towards Winston, I understood her reason for not feeling an attachment. In such a controlled and scary society, little things could have big repercussions.
Character Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars
Honestly, I wasn’t hooked. The story was slow when it came to new developments in the character’s life, and because the politics was so powerful, you couldn’t really enjoy it. The book is interesting, but it doesn’t have any surprises or anything spectacular hiding within the pages.
Grip Rating: ½ out of 2 Stars
Overall, I thought that Nineteen Eighty-Four was an interesting book but could only be fully enjoyed by those with a strong passion for politics. It is the centre and over powering theme that makes this book so famous, and the scary thing about the story is that it is so easy to visualise that it seems such a society could occur overnight.
Overall Rating: 1½ + 3 + ½ = 5 out of 10 Stars
For more Nineteen Eighty-Four reviews and any information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5470.1984