I think that approaching a classic book is not as easy as picking up a contemporary that everyone is talking about. So I thought I would talk about these older but still great novels that we might recognize by name, but not by plot or subject. And maybe compare them to modern best-sellers.
This time I chose 1984 by George Orwell. Because dystopian novels make my world go round…
In 1984 (supposedly in the near future) there’s a guy called Winston Smith whose work is to rewrite history. Imagine a world similar to The Hunger Games but without the games. They have the same totalitarian government that spies on people and controls them by fear. But instead of The Capitol and President Snow, 1984 has The Party and the Big Brother. This Big Brother is the supreme leader and everyone in Oceania (Hunger Games’ Panem) MUST love him.
So, this guy Winston has a pretty average job. He goes to the office everyday and receives a bunch of papers with the new truths out there. If the Party has decided that a certain event in history makes them look bad, or contradict themselves, they just ask Winston to erase that event from books and any kind of media. And from that moment, everyone must forget about that event, person or statement.
To make sure that everyone is behaving just like they should, the Big Brother has microphones and cameras literally EVERYWHERE. There’s no place to hide – just like in those awful reality shows amusingly called Big Brother. On top of that, 1984 has its own Peacekeepers, they are either spies or normal citizens, encouraged by the Big Brother to denounce suspicious activities (and by suspicious activities I mean expressing negative thoughts about the government and not loving the Big Brother).
Our protagonist Winston, by the way, is in terrible danger, since he actually hates the Big Brother and has the courage to write about it in his diary (blasphemy!). And it doesn’t stay just at ‘crimethink‘, because he’s lucky enough to meet Julia, another rebel hiding in plain sight. Both of them overcome their greatest fear and dare to speak aloud about their thoughts, something that could easily get them killed.
1) YA readers that want to check out a classic. If you are a fan of dystopian series like The Hunger Games, Divergent or Delirium, 1984 might be the easiest and most enjoyable approach to classic literature. What is better is that 1984 probably influenced the authors of your favorite books. You might notice it because of the same kind of totalitarian government, the ban on individualism and how their own Big Brother always relies on the weakness of isolated people.
Reading a classic might feel different from a YA novel because of the language. But don’t let this one intimidate you! 1984 is a light read with a bunch of familiar concepts and an entertaining plot. But most of all, it is a book that will make you think (which is funny, because the characters in the book were not allowed to do this).
2) Fans of other dystopian works. Like Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451. I think anyone who liked those novels should give 1984 a chance. The three of them are extremely different on their approaches to dystopia (either with fear, ignorance or apathy). But what brings them together is the certainty that something evil awaits. And that humankind will be condemned the day we stop thinking and making questions. (And that’s honestly really cool to read).
3) Anyone. 1984 was the first dystopian book I read, and the one that made me a fan of the genre. So I would say anyone could potentially like it. (But I guess it’s the same with any book…). If you find the plot interesting, if you want to read more classic books, if you want to read one of the most famous social critics or a theory about how our future will be, pick this up :).
Are you a fan of dystopian novels? Which one is your favorite? And… will you add 1984 to your TBR? 🙂 I swear it’s awesome! Thought my boyfriend insists that Brave New World is better…