Having taken me the best part of a month to read, I found 1984 terrifying, thought-provoking and overly complicated.
1984 is about Winston Smith, a middle aged man who works for the Ministry of Truth in London. His, and every other person’s lives are constantly under surveillance from Big Brother, the personification of the state of Oceania. Movements, conversations and thoughts are restricted and every aspect of life controlled by hidden mics and telescreens placed everywhere. History is rewritten in an attempt to make the state seem superior to all others and speaking out against Big Brother is not tolerated, often leading to a trip to Room 101 where you are unlikely to return from. Winston falls in love with Julia, and begins an affair-like relationship with her, having sex and discussing rebellion above a small antiques shop until they are eventually caught.
The whole book for me was quite morbid and should probably be considered for the horror section. Although the year of 1984 has passed us, George Orwell’s writing has so much truth and relation to our world now and mirrors the Third Reich and control of Hitler. I found the language quite difficult and there are large portions of this book I would need to re-read in an attempt to fully understand them. There was a chunk of the book I skipped entirely which was The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical and Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein which seemed unnecessary within the story. I found it more like a political statement that had me falling asleep and would take me years to decipher. I thought the book would make a great essay but found it drawn out quite a bit and difficult to understand with so much information thrown at the reader.
The characters were very bland, partially because of the nature of the people at that time under the control of the state however Orwell didn’t expand on them too much. I liked Winston and mostly felt incredibly sorry for him. I liked to think I would relate to him if I had been stuck in the same situation. I found him quite pathetic at times but enjoyed his thought process. I loved reading about his relationship with Julia as it was so secretive I felt I was in on something special. Orwell’s setting description was beautiful and I could really picture the room in which they would spend hours making love. Julia was annoying, yet loveable at the same time. Her character enticed me and I would have loved the author to delve into her mind a little more.
O’Brien was another interesting character as you could see the effect the state had on him and his ability to change and believe anything. H was brainwashed, which hit home quite hard when I thought of today’s society.
The plot twist was my absolute favourite and I enjoyed the second half of the book much more than the first. It had much more drama and it focused in on just the two characters of Winston and O’Brien. It was much more fast paced and dramatic and I loved the psychological impact it had on me. I found myself wondering if I would make the same choices. I’d like to think I would fight Big Brother until my dying breath but in reality I would probably end up just as brainwashed as every other member of society.
I really enjoyed the ending as it wasn’t what I thought it would be and it stayed away from the typical happily ever after endings I’m so used to reading.
Overall, I found the book hard to read if you don’t have an extensive vocabulary and don’t particularly understand politics and I found bits much too drawn out and unnecessarily long. I enjoyed how Orwell set the scenes and I enjoyed the ending however it won’t be a book I will read again.