Review: 1984

1984
1984 by George Orwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #58 for 2015
PopSugar Challenge Criteria Met:
– A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t
– A book with a number in the title
– A book your mom loves
– A banned book

This was assigned for freshman orientation at Drury, but I just couldn’t get into it. That was at least in part due to that being a super-busy summer for me, but in retrospect, I think it would have been wasted on 16/17-year-old me, who was still pretty naive. I’m surprised, though, that it took me this long to pick back up. I guess it’s just been on my “I’ve been meaning to read that” list for so long that I’d forgotten about it. Until I saw how many boxes it ticked on the PopSugar challenge, that is.

Still, I probably didn’t give this the attention it deserves. I can’t find the copy I’ve had since 1987 (I imagine it’s in the same box as The Big Four), so last summer I borrowed the audio version from the library. I was really getting into it this time, but I had to return it well before I was finished. It was several months before I ran across a used paperback and decided I might as well buy another copy in order to get it finished for the 2015 challenge. Then I had to really zip through the last parts. So I’m thinking I should do a complete re-read of this one.

It’s certainly worth reading again. I gave it 4 stars here mainly due to pacing. Even with my bizarre reading schedule for this book, I felt like parts of the book really dragged, and then I’d suddenly be flipping back and forth, trying to figure out how the scenes were supposed to go together because they’d gotten choppy. But the dystopian world Orwell created was brilliantly chilling and depressingly similar to today’s world in too many ways. Even when he got things “wrong,” I could see exactly why he wrote them as he did. I can’t help but wonder if they’re not so much “wrong” as “just wait.”

This is one of those books that definitely belongs on a required reading list. Some would say high school, but in my experience I would say Animal Farm is a better high-school read. Leave this one for a year or two out of high school, when students are starting to feel more of the pressures that come with adulthood. When the shiny has worn off their college lives a little bit and they are starting to get a little jaded.

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