BOOK REVIEW: FAHRENHEIT 451

Part of the appeal of dystopian novels is that they strip the world of all its glitz and glamour and underneath that layer of pretense, they reveal in brutal honesty the true character of man and the wickedness that lurks in the shadows. Thus when we compare the world today to a dystopian one, we are reminded of how our poor choices can result in disastrous consequences in the future. On the other hand, are we really that far from that future? Or aren’t we now just witnessing the birth pangs of a reality that none of us are truly prepared to face? On that rather bleak note, on to a spoiler free review of the book!

In this classic written by Ray Bradbury, Guy Montag is a fireman whose sole purpose in this futuristic world is to destroy books. Despite the outward pride he exudes in performing his duty, he slowly starts to have an identity crisis when he meets a girl called Clarisse McClellan who asks him questions that challenge the reality of what he believes. She asks him, “Are you happy?” (7). This simple question, triggers in him a wave of emotions that lay bare the whole facade he was trying to put up about how much he loves his job.

“He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs . He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.” (9)

It’s a materialistic world.

Montag’s wife, Mildred, is more interested in watching TV than interracting with her husband. She’s drawn to it a lot and when she can’t focus she takes sleeping pills every time Montag wants to talk to her about real issues. Mildred can’t face the real world either because when she’s agitated she inserts “seashells” in her ear which are essentially like ear buds.

I don’t think it was a mistake that Bradbury called the ear buds seashells. If you’ve ever put an actual sea shell in your ear it emits white noise like the sound of the ocean. The author shows that people like Mildred would rather drown their sorrow with the sound of “nothingness” than actually interract with people around them.

Fahrenheit 451 isn’t necessarily about Government censorship but about the lengths people would go in the the name of wanting to be happy. People don’t want to be offended therefore books were identified as the primary source of people’s unhappiness and therefore had to be burned. This is political correctness in the extreme.

“…the word ‘intellectual’, of course became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar.” (55)

Montag has good intentions but like a fire he is unpredictable.

FIRE- “It’s real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences.” (109)

Without giving too much away, Guy Montag gets himself in situations where he needs to be more tactful but his emotions get the better of him. This new found feeling of freedom of choice makes him a prime target for the powerful government agents whom he works for especially his superior Captain Beatty. On one of their talks about how firemen came to be, Beatty ominously warns Montag that,

“We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the constitution says but everyone made equal.” (55)

Beatty adds,

“So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Breach man’s mind who knows who might be the target of the well read man. Me? I won’t stomach them for a minute.” (56)

Will Montag turn into a rebel? Or will he succumb to the realization that he is fighting a futile battle that is far bigger than he anticipated?

I highly recommed this book for the simple fact that despite being published in 1953, it is still highly relevant today and sheds light into what our society might turn into.

10 out of 10 stars for me. or five out of five. Point is, I like it.

Quick note too. I watched the HBO movie right after reading the book and though the movie wasn’t terrible it was just average at best! Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon are good actors but as usual the creators took creative license and I was unimpressed. Don’t get me started on their portrayal of Clarisse McClellan. Maybe I’ll do the old book and movie comparison just for my own peace of mind.

BOOK REVIEW: RUMO AND HIS MIRACULOUS ADVENTURES.

When Rumo is taken captive by a race of one-eyed giants, he little knows that it will set him off on an adventure into the perilous world of the Zamonian continent. The only sure thing he has chosen to follow is a silver thread in the sky. Will Rumo find the answers to all the questions he seeks in his life? Or will it lead to despair?

Walter Moers has written what I can only describe as an adventerous masterpiece woven into a fantasy realm about a dog called Rumo who is on a journey of self discovery. He has to overcome incredible adversity to beat the odds in a very unforgiving world.

In the beginning , the protagonist Rumo, lives a very privileged life as a pet on a Hackonian farm. Life was good for the young puppy until his quiet life is shattered when some one-eyed raiders called Demonocles kidnap him and hold him captive on a moving island called Roaming Rock.

Despite the horriific conditions, Rumo manages to survive thanks to the advice of a fellow captive called Volzotan Smyke. He eventually gains enough courage to break free from his captors. THE END. No it’s definitely not.

This is only one story that leads Rumo on an incredible journey of bravery, friendship, sacrifice, loss, and love.

Rumo and his miraculous adventures is the second book I’ve read by Walter Moers. The first was The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books which first introduced me to the world of Zamonia. I would say his books are catered to young adults even though the art on this book cover suggests it’s for children.  Even my wife thought I was borrowing a children’s book. However, I was mesmerized by how the language was masterfully written to paint pictures and describe places that seemed to instantly come to life on every page.

His books are engaging and thoroughly entertaining so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that Moers is actually German and his books have been translated to English.

Whoever translated the books, Bravo! I’ll make sure to like and subscribe to your channel since that’s what people want nowadays.

colbert applaude

Back to Rumo. The best thing about the book is that it is engaging. At no point did I feel the author was filling in words for the sake of it. Because Zamonia is a made up place obviously, Moers made up a lot of words.  For instance, Rumo is a WOLPERTING and his friend Smyke is a SHARK GRUB who got his knowledge from a NOCTURNOMATH called Professor Nightingale. You get the point. The complex words only add to the overall story and make it so much more richer and not many authors can do that.

All the characters are almost polar opposites of each other which adds to the intrigue especially in tense situations. The warriors and monsters are as thirsty for blood just as much as the professors and alchemists are as desperate for knowledge.

One of the most engaging parts of the book was when a tree called Yggdra Syl (good luck pronouncing that) talks passionately to Rumo about how trees are not as immobile and docile as people think they are. He says,

“We’re supposed to be the epitome of stability, reliability, impertability….That’s all nonsense! We’re really the most mobile living creatures in existence, we’re always on the move- always in every direction….We’re never still….Oak trees are really the finest symbol of mobility, but people insist on misinterpreting us. ” (367)

Yggdra Syl also goes on to talk about how intricate his roots explore the center of the earth.

“It’s like leafing through a book written by earth itself. Full of secrets! Full of surprises! Full of mysterious marvels! ” (367)

That final quote really sums up the story perfectly.  Every character in the book has a story to tell and I could go on and on about how good it is but I don’t want to give it away.

Although this book is a work of fantasy, the themes talked about are very relatable. There is a carpenter called Ornt who people come to for advice. Not because he is very good at it but because he is a willing listener. Moers writes,

“People didn’t see Ornt because they believed he would advice them corectly. They consulted him because he relieved them of something they feared even more than the prosepct of their own funerals; the need to make a decision.” (347)

Whaaaaat ! So deep I had to pause for a few seconds after reading that. Anyway, I hope you liked this unorthodox book review and I highly recommend the book. 10 out of 10 stars for me.

Shout out to my local library for going out of their way to find this book for me.  Have a great day.