Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As relevant now as it was when it was first published, perhaps more so, given the current state of the media. Some slight SPOILERS are contained in my review, below.
When reading is outlawed and the only form of entertainment appears to be some sort of augmented-reality/reality-TV show (which seems like the most dire thing ever conceived!); Guy Montag is a firemen, whose job description is no longer to put out fires, but start them to get rid of the contraband books.
Guy is married to a woman he barely talks to (who spends her life in/watching her “show”), he works with a group of men he barely knows, because both written and verbal communication has become universally stifled; at least about anything worthwhile. Inane banter still occurs. When Guy bumps into Clarisse McClellan on his way home from work, who was out for a walk (also something not done any more), she begins to open his mind to new ideas and to actually pay attention to the world around him. Later, after losing Clarisse, he begins to question what is really so bad about the books he’s burning. Once he starts to turn the page of the books, he turns a page in his life. But then becomes a wanted man. Finally, he seeks refuge with a group of people he stumbles across who are themselves attempting to preserve the literature in the only way left to them… their memories.
The points of view of many of the characters within this novel seem quite harsh and right-wing (of course, that’s the point), but it’s scary to think how close we are to large groups of people being told how “bad” something is, seeing an article of “fake news” online, believing it all to be true at face-value and being completely unable to grasp any other side of the argument. This is how propaganda, government-backed-lies, and fascism starts; by telling you something that you “sort of thought might be true, but wasn’t sure” and then becoming convinced that you’ve been right all along, that “those people you were afraid of” for no reason are really very scary..
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