Book Review

Book Beat by Alex Tolkin

By Denebola
Published: September 2007

By Alex Tolkin

One of the most thought provoking books I read over the summer was Ray Bradbury’s masterpiece, Fahrenheit 451 . The book describes a dystopian future where firemen are the ones who start fires in order to burn masses of books that violate common thought. Ironically enough, the pursuit of utopia drives these vicious attacks: if there are no books to present alternate viewpoints that people disagree with and the populace is inundated with messages of happiness, of course they must be happy. Unsurprisingly, nobody is happy at all.

The central character, fireman Montag, discovers his own unhappiness through talking to a mysterious girl who is unaffected by the terrible society. The book primarily chronicles Montag’s spiritual and physical journey away from the censorship and oppression all around him. Realizing that he is not truly happy, Montag begins smuggling books, trying to understand them and make amends for the crimes he has committed against knowledge.

Fahrenheit 451 makes a powerful and emotional case against censorship of any kind, as well as painting an intriguing dystopian world that eerily resembles our own in many ways. Bradbury describes people’s turn away from books as self-inflicted: the attention spans of the public steadily decrease as the public becomes increasingly wrapped up in a nonsensical world of imaginary television shows. While that may be a bit extreme, any reader gets lingering jitters nevertheless, which of course is exactly the point.

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