Review No.208 – Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

HarperVoyager, 2008

Originally published in 1953

Once, it’s said, the firemen came to put out the fires. Now they respond to alarms of a different nature, arriving at the homes of transgressors to seek out forbidden books and burn them all. Montag loves the simplicity of the fire. When a chance encounter makes him question his work, however, the answers are not simple at all. Why must the books burn? And why are so many people willing to burn with them?

I’m easily jarred out of a story with dated details, and that happened a few times with Fahrenheit 451, but the real problems were more structural – the world-building did not make sense, the characters were inconsistent and many of the things they did were incomprehensible. It felt more like a moral fable than a science fiction novel, which was possibly intentional but did not appeal to me. Though frustratingly hyperbolic, Fahrenheit 451 did at least make me think. I might have taken its message more seriously if Bradbury had referenced even one female author among the forbidden ‘greats’.

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