Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Burnt MatchesYear of First Publication: 1953

Year of Publication for This Edition: 2012

Number of Pages: 249

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: Fiction

Sub-Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Social Commentary

Subjects: Books, Censorship, Society, the Media, Political Correctness

Find it on The Book Depository. (Disclosure: I’m an affiliate.)


Fahrenheit 451 is about a futuristic society whose people are so superficial, so materialistic, and so obsessed with their own temporary happiness that they have no use for books. Because the houses are now all fireproof, the fire department’s job is not to put out fires, but to burn books. The hero of the story, Guy Montag, is a fireman who enjoys his job, but at same time, wonders if he is really doing the right thing. However, one last night on the job convinces Guy that he can’t go back to work again. After meeting a couple of chance acquaintances—and finding out why firemen burn books—Guy resolves to stop burning and start building.

Fahrenheit 451 is a sad, sad book, but it wouldn’t be so sad if it weren’t so true. Just like 1984, The Time Machine, and The Twilight Zone (for which Ray Bradbury wrote an episode, by the way), Fahrenheit 451 is like a mirror that shows us both who we are now and who we are going to be if we continue this way. Despite having published this book in 1953, Bradbury nails our superficial, hedonistic, brainless culture perfectly. Over and over, I found him condemning things that I see in the world nearly every day of my life, things like rogue political correctness, the break-down of the family, and violence among young people. And unlike some, Bradbury isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers; his message is loud, bold, and clear. I especially love that part in the end where he says–no, wait, I’m about to ruin it again. Sorry!

Though the substance was great, the style was not ideal. Perhaps this is just me, but I found it difficult to keep up with Fahrenheit 451‘s writing style. For instance, the long sentences were a bit burdensome (but as you’ll see in the “Coda” at the end of the book, Bradbury stands firmly by his “jawbreaker sentences”). Bradbury also omits dialogue tags every now and then, which makes who said what a little unclear in a few places. Other than that, I have no complaints. Bradbury is a fine author who uses his writing to put his readers in the middle of the scene. Also, he creates suspense better than any author I’ve ever read.

On the whole, I would say that Fahrenheit 451 was a fantastic book. In an age where political correctness reigns supreme and opinions can sentence you to a lifetime of ignominy, we need books like these. It means just as much today as it did sixty-one years ago . . . or perhaps more.


Image: PublicDomainPictures.Net

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9 thoughts on “Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

  1. I remember the first time I read this, in the car on the way back to college for my sophomore year. It gripped me so tightly, I hated every time we stopped for bathroom breaks and meals — I just wanted my dad to keep driving so I could keep reading. It was my first Bradbury, and I actually bought it because I’d read an interview with Mel Gibson, who quoted that thing Bradbury quotes at the very beginning: “If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” That intrigued me so much I bought a copy. Have loved it ever since.

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    1. It was my first Bradbury too! I decided to read it after seeing a video of a lecture Bradbury gave back in 2001 that was all about books and writing. Before then, I had never really paid attention to Bradbury because I didn’t much care for science fiction, but after seeing that video, I wanted to know what else he had to say. I got F451 from the library because I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but since reading that, I’ve been fascinated by Bradbury. I love his approach to writing as an art, the passion he showed for the written word, and the way he said what he needed to say without caring what anyone else thought. He was brilliant! Just the sort of author we need!

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      1. His brand of sci-fi is practically fantasy in a lot of ways, isn’t it? It’s sci-fi in that it often takes place in the future or on a different planet or involves space travel, but it’s light on the science and heavy on the good fiction stuff like character development and theme exploration. The stuff many other sci-fi things I’ve tried have come up a bit lacking on, to be honest.

        I really liked his The Illustrated Man too, and also From the Dust Returned. And The Martian Chronicles was intriguing.

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        1. Yes, I guess that’s what I like about Bradbury’s stories: they’re more about the characters and the ideas they stand for than they are about the setting or about technology, like some science fiction is.

          So far, I only have two of Bradbury’s books, this and a nonfiction book called Zen in the Art of Writing, but I’ve really been wanting to read The Illustrated Man and The Golden Apples of the Sun.

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        2. Ooooh! Zen in the Art of Writing has been on my to-read list for years, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

          I’ve read his Dandelion Wine too, but it was melancholy and wistful and made me sad. Really beautiful, though.

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        3. I’m not quite done with Zen in the Art of Writing yet, but I’ve read most of it and so far, it’s fantastic! I love how excited Bradbury gets when he talks about writing. Besides that, I’ve gotten some pretty good advice from that book that I’ve been able to use in my own work.

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