Year of Publication for This Edition: 2012
Number of Pages: 249
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Sub-Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Social Commentary
Subjects: Books, Censorship, Society, the Media, Political Correctness
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.