I’m sure this book has been analysed and over-analysed again and again, so I’m not going to add my very uninformed, unintelligent opinion on it, so this is going to be a mini-review. I’m just going to talk about a few things I liked, add a quote or two, and yeah.
This review is alternatively named: “I know I missed a ton of symbolism and depth and philosophical meaning, but I liked the book and wanted to say you should read it too so don’t judge me.”
Firemen burn books.
If you want to know more, read it.
I’m not calling this pros because that suggests I know what makes this a good book, and I don’t. It’s a book that takes a lot of thought and more than one read to really comprehend enough to make a definitive list of all the reasons it was good, but I haven’t done that, so deal with it. (I’m sorry, that was mean, I give you a virtual hug. And if you’re questioning whether or not I actually just hugged my laptop, you should have more faith in me. On a side note: laptops are really awkward to hug. They’re all small and edgy and pointy.)
I liked the way Ray Bradbury portrayed the ignorance of Myrtle and her friends. All they did was repeat the same sentences over again, or reiterate what someone else had told them, or what they had heard. They never had an original thought in their conversation, it was all “oh, [insert name here], told me this. This is going to happen because they told me this. This is happening. Do you think it’s happening?” “I think it’s going to happen. This thing that is going to happen.” It not only made them so irritating to read about, but so very real, as I know a lot of people who actually do that. It showed that they had no understanding of anything, however they thought spewing mindless facts gave them intelligence, and did so.
I loved the portrayal of people just being so damn happy with their ignorance, and never having to feel a thing in their lives. The idea that people had become so careless and so protected from bad deeds that they never had to face a bad situation again, without an easy getaway.
And above all, I loved the way the dystopian society had been formed. It wasn’t a totalitarian government that forced people in oppression, it was the people themselves and their impatience and ignorance that had led to this world where no one cared. Where children tried to kill random strangers for fun, a relaxing night was driving over animals, and for fun they would watch animals tear other small creatures to pieces.
So many things in this book are described as both dead and alive, as though all the people in this society are living half-lives without empathy and compassion. Without intelligence and curiosity. It seems that Montag only wants to feel alive, in this society where people act like zombies with mindless drivel coming out of their mouths. The irony of Beatty criticising books with characters that had never lived, that were both dead and alive, when he was too, both in a metaphorical and real sense. He, like everyone, is a fictional character. He never lived, he never breathed, but he is alive on those pages.
- “Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
- “Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?”
“Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.”
- “With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”
- “We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
- “Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.”
The casual brutality and ignorance portrayed in the book is what I might love most of all. The things that Montag sees are haunting and stay with you long after you’ve read them. I loved the many messages Fahrenheit 451 wrote about, and gave life to, and it is extremely relevant to today. 5 shuriken stars. Definitely.