Fahrenheit 451 is a short science fiction novel, written by Ray Bradbury, and published in 1953. It tells of a future American society that is now a dystopia, oppressed by the state from any freedom. The society is presented as addicted to pleasure, with complete disregard for anything else; it is also anti-intellectual, and the largest outworking of this is the destruction of all books.
Guy Montag is a fireman – but he doesn't put out fires. Rather, he starts them. Whenever and wherever books are found, Montag and the other firemen go and burn them. Books are banned, as they are the source of all unhappiness. Yet Montag is unhappy – and when he starts to the question the society around him, he is led down a very dangerous path. The Mechanical Hound, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who dare to defy society by preserving and reading books.
One of the most brilliantly written books I have ever read. While it is a fantastic read, it is chilling, frightening, and even disturbing, as the society's enslavement to technology sounds far too close to reality. While 3-D televisions and flat-panel screens didn't exist when Bradbury wrote the book, they do now; and the description of the "parlour", a room with a 3-D television screen on each wall, sounds, well, possible – certainly in a few years from now. People's addiction to it (and other technology) sounds prophetic, as we move ever closer towards that sort of society. A book which I defy you to read, and not see its relevance today, over 50 years after it was written. And for that, for the insight into just how terrible a conformist, pleasure and technology addicted society would be, the book should be read. Now, go and read it!
A very worthwhile read - it's amazing how much Bradbury seems to have predicted some of today's lifestyle, despite this book being more than 50 years old now. The way he describes the personalised TV shows on the wall-size screens, and the constant music on demand in the earpiece is quite a good approximation to today's obsession with a constant stream of entertainment and social networking. Then there's the fact that books are bad - because they make you think.
Reading it now (as an adult) I can tell it was written quite quickly, and that Bradbury was young when he wrote it. The story sometimes jumps unevenly, and the ending is not the best, but I'm pleased he's left it as it is, rather than rewritten it. Appreciate it as a work of a young genius, whose writing style has not yet developed into maturity.
I recommend this book to any teenager (or adult) who wants to think, who wants to live right, rather than simply conforming to social norms.
Amazing book that questions everything you believe about society and technology. A great read for 15 and 16 year-olds that want to question. A great book for those who love books, a little science fiction and a little adventure. Ray Bradley gave us a wonderful gift with this book and the ending is marvelous! Highly recommended.
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- Reading Age: 14+
- Reading Aloud Age: 14+
Some swearing. Montag's wife takes too many drugs, and has to have her blood removed, and new blood inserted (a device used so that Montag realises just how little anybody cares about them). Montag kills one person, but feels awful afterwards. The book's language and themes are quite adult, so a certain level of maturity is needed.