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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

I was nervous when I began Fahrenheit 451. Right away I noticed the style of writing, the characters, the pace—it all reminded me of another book I once read and hated, a book everyone and their mother seems to hold up as an example of brilliant literature: 1984. I don't like to compare works of literature, but it's bound to happen from time to time. Unfortunately, 451 was a bit too much like 1984 to shake my initial worries: the same basic setup, similar themes, very similar feel, protagonists that parallel one another, and the same disregard for females with sense or intelligence. What helped me push through 451 was its size. By the time I started questioning how much more I could put up with, I was a quarter of the way through. Yes, I could finish it.

And I was glad I did. While the same basic backbone existed in both stories, Fahrenheit 451 shaped up to be a much better story. First of all, to its credit, it wasn't any longer than it needed to be. It's a very short novel, and before I got to the point where eye rolls were a plenty, it was over. Secondly, the writing was far superior. Bradbury's word choice was fresh. I never felt bored with his prose. No, the story didn't pull me in, but Bradbury's words did (an immense step up from Orwell). Third, the characters were a little more interesting, a little more rounded. Could they have been better written? Yes, but part of this may have been a consequence of keeping the story short.

In the end, I wasn't impressed with Fahrenheit 451, but I will consider returning to Bradbury. Orwell's people on the other hand are going to have to work hard to earn my time again. Am I letting my feelings for 1984 weigh too heavily on my reading of Fahrenheit 451? Likely; however, it was such a significant thought in my mind as I read that it would feel unnatural, perhaps dishonest to not mention it in my review.

So consider this what you want: a review of Fahrenheit 451? or 1984? a critical response to dystopian fiction? the ramblings of a madman? Call it what you want, and I'll do the same, but in the end, we both know it's two sides of the same coin. ;)