Friday, July 31, 2009

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 audio Mini Synopsis: This is a classic dystopian science fiction novel written by a “Grand Master” of the genre. It tells of a future world where books are illegal. They are burned by firemen whose sole purpose in life is to rid society of their supposed evils. Where the members of this society are indoctrinated with an audio/video infused system that produces a collective numbness. The main character Montag is one of these firemen, whom after some internal conflict comes to a transitional point in his life where he questions the loss of books and their importance to humanity.

My thoughts: I listened to this book on an audio version on my iPod which was read by the author. It was my first book downloaded this way and I had some problems listening to it in order. In addition, when I first read Fahrenheit 451 when I was in high school the only thing I remember is my own teenage boredom. So naturally my thoughts are still a bit “choppy” around the book.

However, I do know that revisiting it again in middle age, I can now relate to its significance as to why it was required reading for high school in the late 70’s. I believe it was to show us, as young adults, a significant precept in the US constitution - the right of our freedom of speech – specifically the press. So it was an indirect lesson in civics.

The story reminds me that it is important to remember, and I truly believe, that information - specifically in this example books, should not be censored. Instead, labeled as we do with the movie industry’s rating system so that the individual has a choice, but never banned. It is a slippery slope if even one of our basic rights be dismissed or controlled as exemplified in this society. If I had not been so possessed with teenage apathy in my first so called reading of this book then perhaps I would have gotten half of the author's point.

Here I finish with a quote which is significant on the issue of one of the gifts books bring us:

… books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They're Caesar's praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, 'Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.' Most of us can't rush around, talk to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven't time, money or that many friends. The things you're looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don't ask for guarantees. And don't look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.

My rating for the book is 3 out of 5 stars. Translation - I Iiked it and recommend it for anyone interested in classic Science Fiction.

Audio Book Stats:

Fahrenheit 451 – by Ray Bradbury

Unabridged – read by author

Harper Collins – Harper Audio

6 hours –29 minutes

ISBN: 9780060855062

May 3, 2005

Book purchasing information from Amazon: US/UK/Canada respectively:

Fahrenheit 451 Fahrenheit 451 Fahrenheit 451

For audio book purchase from Harper Audio in the US click here.

This serves as a count for two of my reading challenges. One for The Fill in the Gaps –100 book challenge, and another for #2 of the 25 point task for a dystopian book the Goodreads Next Best Book Club Summer 2009 reading challenge.

7 comments:

Amanda said...

I saw the movie of this in middle school and it really horrified me, the woman burned alive with her books. That sort of thing is horrible to see in film. I always avoided reading the book, but now that it's been a good number of years since then, I think I should revisit.

logankstewart said...

I really liked Fahrenheit 451 when I read it in high school, so much so that I went and bought a few Ray Bradbury books, though I never managed to read them.

Shellie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shellie said...

Logan... I have a bunch on the shelf here at home and several in one of my challenges... hes good. People love him.

Shellie said...

Amanda - Lets try this again...
The audio read by the author was really good. He slurs a bit but when your old.. but he really knows the material so he does a nice job. Its worth it to say you've read this important classic - only in your spare time though. ;)

Literature Crazy said...

I've got this book on my TBR shelf (and agree that it's one to be visited (or re-visited) in adult years). I think it would be interesting to hear the author do the audio version--would he read it a certain way?

Thanks for the review.

Shellie said...

Lit Crazy-
Yes, Bradbury puts a lot of emotion into the reading, and you could tell he knows the material well. I'm finding that listening to rather than reading some of these classics is easier for me.
Thanks for stopping by. :)

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