Author: George Orwell
Publisher(s): Secker and Warburg (more+)
Genre: Futuristic Political Fiction
Original date of publication: June 1949
Pages: 326 (Penguin India edition)
Short Synopsis (Spoiler-free!):
George Orwell has created a setting where totalitarianism rules every facet of a person’s life. The protagonist of this book is Winston Smith, who works in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth. These settings are located in Oceania, one of the three factions (masses of continents) on earth. Winston lives in the Victory Mansions, an apartment in a place formerly known as London. The plot is based on Winston’s rebellion against Big Brother. Oceania is a place where Big Brother controls everything, and by everything, it also includes people’s thoughts; you are not allowed to have thoughts that go against or question Big Brother and his party. The citizens of Oceania are not allowed to have sexual relationships or even have erotic thoughts for that matter; they are forcibly “made sane” through the fascist principles of “Ingsoc”. The place is filled with posters of Big Brother with the caption ‘Big Brother is watching you’. Hence, we follow Winston’s perspectives and his rebellion against Big Brother.
My Thoughts on the book:
First of all, I would just like to note that I had read maybe 5% of this book in 2014 as a summer reading for my new high school, which had not even begun at the time. I have to say, I could not understand a lot of it because I was somewhat of a clumsy reader when it came to new genres of books, especially historical fiction, and modern classics. However, my English class, as well as BookTube (which is a YouTube community of bookworms and avid readers), actually encouraged me to read this book. My teacher discussed the book in class and I came to know that 1984 is actually a pretty intense read with politics involved. We watched videos of Joseph Stalin and his rule in the Soviet Union during pre and post World War II, which I found quite interesting and important. Additionally, the BookTube community gave good reviews and recommended 1984 as a read that would take readers on a frightening but also kind of intellectual journey, which was exactly what I eventually went through with this book. I enjoyed reading this book because it is unique and insightful. Although you can feel your heart beating and you feel vulnerable because the characters go through so much of torment, you will not leave this book without an awe for George Orwell’s creation. He has definitely thought things through about politics, its past, present, and future.
The disappointment, however, was the character, with whom I could not really connect with. I think it was because of how as a reader, I tend to relate to characters that speak their mind and go through similar situations as I – something that definitely does NOT take place in this plot for 1984. I could not really connect with Winston throughout the book, however, I did go through the same torment as he did on some level. I really liked Julia, although I did not really adore her in the beginning. Despite that and my personal struggle with having to have a reason to read the book, in the beginning, I think 1984 is worth a read. It is one of George Orwell’s masterpieces and I recommend it to those who are looking for more challenging books amidst reading contemporary YA novels. The book provides characters for which readers can sympathise and a plot that makes you contemplate more often than not. I want to end this review saying that I have not read anything like 1984 yet (or maybe ever?).
Ratings: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
P.S. – Turns out that there are 42 covers for 1984. Here is a post of the book covers published chronologically.