Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 
by Ray Bradbury

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Guy Montag is a fireman, burning illegal books and the homes where they are found. His world falls apart when he meets a girl with big ideas who teaches him to stop and relish life, and an old professor who teaches him about a past when people were allowed to think for themselves.
I did not really like Montag’s character. He’s so unstable for most of the book. I mean, there’s character development and change, and then there’s psychotic break downs. Montag’s scenes are mostly the latter. I wish it was a story about a man awakening to the truth of reality, and changing his life for the better, and finding a true purpose. But… it’s not. It’s just not. It’s about a man who stumbles around doing dumb things and getting himself into trouble, because he can’t keep his temper or think rationally.

I was curious to read about the horrific idea of a future where books are burned and knowledge is shunned. I wanted to see the good guys triumph over evil, but, true to modern form, there is no real ending to the story. It leaves things hanging in an unsatisfactory way, and nothing is resolved for the characters.

The plot moves slowly with plenty of philosophizing in between the action, but there is an immediacy to the writing that makes every tiny incident important and meaningful to the characters. There is also the constant threat of the government/laws/authority hanging over everyone’s heads, so that buoys up some of the slower scenes with suspense.

I like some of the ideas and themes in this book, and the plot is certainly compelling, but I HATE THE WRITING STYLE! Agh, Bradbury and I have never gotten along. His writing is so awful. He uses run-on sentences, and fragments, and mixed metaphors until I can barely make sense of what he is saying. He is so unnecessarily verbose.

Sometimes, he will create a beautiful turn of phrase, and I will read in awe of the raw power of his words, and then he ruins it with ANOTHER out-of-place simile. He is like an avalanche of words! If he just had a little control, then his writing would be gorgeous and potent. But he just pours a volcano of words onto the page, and it’s all jumbled and incomprehensible.

I did not enjoy reading this, but I can recognize some good points in the book. I can see why it is so popular. And I was frankly amazed at the accurate representation of future attitudes about personal knowledge, and how the media tries to control the thoughts of the masses.

This was Bradbury’s last chance. I told myself that if I didn’t like this one, I would give up on his books. Sorry, Bradbury. We’re done. I’m breaking up with you. Forever. And we are never ever getting back together.

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