Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

So, two out of two for Ray Bradbury then so far!  First, Something Wicked – which was just excellent and then the thought provoking and shocking Fahrenheit 451 which has kept me thinking for days!

This is an excellent story, quite serious and very well written.

The setting is a futuristic America, no place specific made mention of exactly (I don’t think).  The main protagonist is Guy Montag, a regular, everyday fireman!  Goes to work and comes home to his loving wife.  Okay, scrap that.  Nothing is ever as simple as it seems and the world in which Guy now lives is a strange dystopian world where the only need for firemen is to burn the few remaining books that have survived this strange world!  Yes, Guy burns books – in fact all the firemen burn books.  Guy then goes home where his wife, headphones placed firmly in her dainty ears listens fixedly to her three tv walls!  She only needs the fourth wall to have a full house (pun intended – and sorry!).  Then, one day, as Guy walks home, feeling feelings that he doesn’t really understand he meets his new neighbour – a young 17 year old girl called Clarisse.  She comes across almost ethereal in this strange world of enforced living zombyism!  She throws Guy’s world seemingly into turmoil by simply asking him if he’s happy.  And from there things start to unravel at quite apace and in a frightening way.

I’m not really going to go into the plot.  This isn’t a new book so I’m sure it’s not possible to really give away spoilers at this stage but I still think this book is best read with little advance warning as basically you start off reading thinking everything is relatively normal.  Then you think ‘hold the phone’ followed swiftly by ‘what’ and ‘no way!’.  This may start off as a narrative of a relatively everyday man, living his life relatively normally until little by little Bradbury deconstructs that idea and tiny piece by piece shows you how completely different this world he has created really is.  People living their small lives, disconnected from each other and reality, soaked in tv with their only reading matter cheap magazines, fueling their unhappy lives behind closed doors, lacking conversation and thought.

I thought this was a really good read.  It’s thought provoking.  I’m not entirely sure whether Bradbury is trying to get across a tale of censorship (and it’s also not clear how this situation was ever reached – other than it appears that ‘they in power’ seem to think reading is troublesome) or whether he was simply expressing through this story his possible concerns about the influence of other forms of media and entertainment and how this would affect people’s lives and reading habits.  It’s certainly easy enough to see the effect that tv has had on Guy’s wife who is almost addicted to her living room walls where the tvs have become her family and all she longs for is a fourth wall of tv – and yet, actually she’s not happy really.

The same with Guy.  He started the story doing his job but with inner remote niggles.  All of a sudden he finds himself longing for the conversations that he imagines his next door neighbours have as they stay awake into the early hours of the morning in their brightly lit and animated house where conversations seem to take place.

Somewhat of a sad read, definitely shocking and incredibly thought provoking.  I’m glad I read this and would have no hesitation in recommending it to others.  A masterpiece of dystopia.

I’m submitting this book as one of my reads for the Little Red Reviewer’s Vintage Sci Fi event and also Stainless Steel Droppings 2015 Sci Fi Experience.

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25 Responses to “Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury”

  1. Carl V. Anderson

    Okay, so I’ve never read this and have wanted to. I’ve also wanted to buy the Sam Weber illustrated version from the Folio Society. I read the first line of your review, or the first couple, and promptly popped over there to order it. I’m going to read this one for Vintage and then check out your review in more detail afterwards. 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      Ohh, I didn’t even know there was an illustrated version – I would have been all over that. I can’t wait to see your review of that.
      Lynn 😀

      • Carl V. Anderson

        “illustrated” may be the wrong word. Sam Weber did the cover and there are full color tip-in plates in it. But still, looks very cool. They are publishing Dune with a Weber cover and interior plates sometime this Spring and I plan to snag a copy of that too.

  2. Jay Dee

    I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read any of Bradbury’s books. I need to read this.

    • lynnsbooks

      Well, I’ve only read two to be honest and only recently. I got it on me to read Something Wicked for Halloween and this seemed like a perfect fit for Vintage Sci-fi. And both of them are so different!
      Lynn 😀

      • Jay Dee

        I’ll have to look into a few of his books. So many books, not enough time.

    • Carl V. Anderson

      Dandelion Wine is another excellent collection of Bradbury’s.

      • lynnsbooks

        Yes. Its on my list And im looking forward to it

      • Jay Dee

        I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.

  3. Michael

    I’ve read this one multiple times over the years and each time I find something new.

    There was an audiobook version of it read by Bradbury that I’ve listened to. It was great and I recommend finding it.

    I also second, third or fourth anyone who says you should read some short stories by Bradbury. He’s really good at short stories.

    • lynnsbooks

      I really fancy Dandelion Wine to be honest so I think that will be my next of his.

      I’ll keep an eye open for some of his short stories.

      Lynn 😀

  4. Delia (Postcards from Asia)

    What a lovely review, Lynn. I’m so glad to see this book is getting the love it deserves. I still remember when I picked it up from the shelf at the bookstore. It was love at first word.
    The world Bradbury creates seems so strange and cold, yet has echoes of the now – and burning books….I think I may have cried at the part where Guy finds and saves a book from the fire.

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s a really interesting book and I think Bradbury’s writing style is great – he just has a way with words – plus, I love the way he starts the story and then gradually reveals that this world is a lot different than we at first thought!
      Lynn 😀

  5. jessicabookworm

    I am pleased to hear you enjoyed this, it was my first Bradbury read. I have also read Dandelion Wine and the short story collection The October Country. While I liked both I would particularly recommend Dandelion Wine.

    • lynnsbooks

      I really fancy Dandelion Wine and it does seem to be a favourite so I think it will be my next.

      Lynn 😀

    • Bridget

      I’ve had Dandelion Wine on my shelf for AGES and have never gotten around to it. I really have to at some point.

      • lynnsbooks

        I’m also going to read it soon, I’m really enjoying Bradbury!
        Lynn 😀

  6. Bridget

    I really have to read this one again—I think I read it for school, and clearly I’m not remembering it very well because I could swear the neighbor’s name is Claudia. 😄 I’m a huge fan of Something Wicked This Way Comes, though! One of my favorites.

    • lynnsbooks

      OMG – I’ve put the name Melissa – it’s not Melissa – that’s a typo! I actually think it’s Clarissa but I’m going to go and check!! No, it was Clarisse! Don’t know how I came to do that – apart from I’m useless with names and should have gone back and checked!! I also loved Something Wicked and I can’t wait to read Dandelion Wine.
      Lynn:D

      • Bridget

        Well, take comfort in the fact that I was clearly making shit up as well haha 😀

      • lynnsbooks

        Oh, I don’t know – Claudia is closer than Melissa!! Hahahaha.

  7. BOOKSHOPPED

    Great review! I also liked it, but I disliked the ending. And I did a blog post on it as well if you want to check it out.

    • lynnsbooks

      Thanks for stopping by. I will definitely check out your review. Always interested in everyone else’s opinion – especially if it differs – more interesting that way.
      Lynn 😀

  8. ‘January brings the snow’… a quick recap | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury […]

  9. Vintage Sci Fi: Book No.4 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] imagine, in fact try not to!!  Anyway this was my second book by Bradbury and I loved it (review here).  One of my reads for Vintage Sci Fi is Dandelion Wine.  I pretty much like all these covers. […]

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