Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.
The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.
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Firemen who start fires? Immersive home theatres wherein people connect so deeply with the characters on the screen that they refer to them as their family? And the beginning and end of a world in which no one questions either of these things, much less anything else like why exactly it is that reading has been so severely outlawed, in under 300 pages? You have my attention.
The opening chapters are downright creepy. The briefest look into our protagonist’s life and he’s already being followed as he all but whistles nonchalantly, his hands in his pockets, on his way home from his job of setting fire to people’s belongings. It’s so surreal that you have to wonder how no one ever questions it – and then someone does. And where yesterday everything was fine, one conversation with one girl and suddenly everything that seemed so logical is thrown into question.
Witnessing Guy’s realisation that out of no where his world is crumbling is intense. Even worse is his wife’s reaction to Guy’s newfound search for answers. And I mean, I was rooting for him, but I’ve also read 1984 and I know how these things. Guy isn’t exactly the most subtle in his methods, and his boss (whose omnipotence reminded me of Willam Defoe in American Psycho) is pretty darn good at his job. In the end, I wasn’t totally satisfied with where the story ended up, but I loved the overall experience. Very cool modern classic.