Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury(Flamingo)

The most surprising thing to me, is how ignorant I was about this book. We've had a copy on our shelf for a while now, but I never knew what it was about. A lot of people read it in university, but my English course sidestepped it.

Earlier in the year, Ray Bradbury passed away, and since then I've stumbled upon numerous quotes from speeches that he has made. By far, my favourite of all of them has to be: “love is at the center of your life. The things that you do should be things that you love, and the things that you love, should be things that you do.”

In a dystopian future firemen don't put out fires anymore, instead they create fires specifically to burn books.

Guy Montag, a fireman, used to the routine of his life and who enjoys his job, meets a young woman who stands in contrast to everything he knows. Initially he is unsettled and annoyed by her, but after some time he looks forward to their meetings.

This leads to Montag's awakening.

He starts seeing things differently, and realises that he is in fact extremely unhappy and disillusioned. His wife is over-medicated, distant, and constantly makes him wonder whether or not he actually has feelings for her.

One day Montag decides to see why books are dangerous and outlawed, so he steals one. This sets him on a deadly path of self-discovery that turns him into an enemy who must be hunted by his fellow firemen and the police. His life turns upside down, and he needs to flee. He manages to make it to the countryside undetected, where he meets a group of learned people.

These men have memorized books and recite them from memory, in the hope that a new generation and society will benefit from their knowledge.

It seems on the outset that Fahrenheit 451 is a novel about book censorship however Bradbury claims it is more a novel focusing on talking about whether other forms of media would destroy our stories.

When Montag questions the state of things, he is told that the reason the world ended up this way was because the voice of the minority clusters rose up and was obeyed.

“It didn’t come from the Government down.There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick.”

This will definitely not be the last book I read by Mr Bradbury!

Read more of Tamarin's reviews on her book blog.

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