Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

FAHRENHEIT 451 | Ray Bradbury
06.2012 (originally published 1953) | Simon Schuster
Rating: 5/5 stars

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Fahrenheit 451, the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns. This is what drives Guy Montag’s life. He is a fireman, which means that his job is to respond to calls about citizens illegally housing copies of books in their homes. You see, books are now considered a form of contraband. The world no longer wants the thoughts of authors to cloud their minds, instead they want their lives to be lead by Seashells, a form of audio entertainment, and walls that project their fictional “families”, available 24/7 to bring happiness and an escape from reality.

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It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.

Are these forms of entertainment truly making people happy or have they just instilled meaningless life in the world? Guy Montag has never once questioned his life or his career, but a series of events lead him straight down that path. His wife, an avid user and lover of the wall system, has attempted to commit suicide and Montag is forced to call in the medics who joke about the commonality of these instances. Then he meets a young girl who has recently moved in down the street. She is different from anyone Montag knows, she questions why things happen and appreciates the little things, like nature and small talk. Over the last few calls to burn houses Montag has stolen a book to add to his suddenly growing collection. What will happen to Montag now that he is questioning everything he has ever known?

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Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?

I first read FAHRENHEIT 451 when I was a sophomore in high school. I instantly loved the book, not only for the fascinating dystopian story, but also for the deeper meaning it holds. I was lucky enough to have a brilliant English teacher at the time who helped a group of teenagers value books. As an avid reader, this had hardly been an issue for me, but Bradbury had the ability to explain the importance of books and the need to have them in our lives. Re-reading this book as an adult, I was able to sympathize more with Montag’s choices as an adult and the risks he was making when he chose to fight against societal norms. This book with forever be a favorite classic in my household and I consistently recommend it to friends and family members.

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