While I was away, I managed to get into a whole lot of reading and finished a number of books. That means that more mini book reviews are on the way. Today I am focusing on the first two books of the holiday which do kind of fall into a similar theme. Both are set in dystopian worlds that are variances of the real world. Both are also books I went into with certain expectations.
I started reading 1984 by George Orwell with very high hopes as to what it would be like. There is a certain mysticism that surrounds it. The influence is so great that even those who haven’t heard of it recognise references such as Big Brother and the Party. It is one of those must-read books. Coming out the other end a few days after entering the world of Winston Smith I was not disappointed. Admittedly reading the ‘book within the book’ was a bit dire; I was far more interested in the characters and plot than the Party’s policies and history. However, thinking back on it now that section does seem to be a clever bit of writing. It lulls you into a false sense of security and boredom before throwing you directly into the climactic events of the novel. This gives the shock of it an even greater impact than if that sense had not been created, it just stretched on slightly too long for my liking. Orwell does seem to have a fairly good predictive sense demonstrated in Animal Farm and 1984. Both are still relevant today. This is true with the latter particularly with the advent of CCTV, phone hackings, and social networking to name a few – very reminiscent of Big Brother. The ending was a bit of a twist as well. I am still not sure how much I was expecting it to happen, despite the foreshadowing earlier in the book. 1984 is certainly a good read, earning its reputation as a must-read novel, and could easily be a warning directed at today’s society. I am curious to see how the film compares.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card I have read before, on and off over the course of a month. This time I read it in two days. It was quite an interesting read as between those two times I have discovered more about Card’s personal philosophies, which I don’t agree with, and wanted to see how much I could pick up in his writing. I also wanted to see how much the background knowledge affected how much I enjoyed it. As it turns out, it didn’t. I enjoyed the book just as much as I had the first time, perhaps more as I could read it in almost one go rather than spread out over a period of time. There were moments when I thought I saw his beliefs poking through, but that could just be because I was looking for them. The premise of Ender’s Game is great, although the age range of the principle characters takes some getting used to. I would say that it is not for the faint of heart or easily offended. There is a substantial amount of child abuse and violence, all of which adds to the overall feel of the novel, and makes you sympathise with Ender while turning against those who harm him. You want Ender to triumph in the end, a desire that only makes you feel a confusing sense of guilt, horror and relief when the ending twist is revealed. There are moments that are heart-breaking and moments that shock. The exposition is well done and the pacing is good throughout. One concern I did have was that the more villainous/rival characters did appear to fall under a stereotype and generality in both appearance and behaviour. I have also just discovered that a film is planned for release later this year. It looks like my films-to-see list has just got a bit longer. It is just a shame that, despite the brilliant book, I can’t bring myself to admire the author.
Anyways, that brings an ends to the book reviews of today. Another one shall be posted later this week regarding a few of the other books I read while away. Hopefully you enjoyed these two.