Book Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

UntitledEdition: Paperback. 368 pages
Published: Penguin Classics (3 Jan. 2013)
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Historic Fiction, Politics, Classics
Rating: 3.5 stars

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. While 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is more timely than ever. 1984 presents a “negative utopia”, that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world — so powerful that it’s completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions — a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

Reading Nineteen Eighty-Four is probably the most political book I have ever read and will ever read, as I am not into politics. Don’t get me wrong, it was actually a very very interesting book and I think it’s a book that everyone should read but it was also very complex. A friend of mine was reading this and she recommended it to me because it was about the future and I am interested in the future. I also found out a colleague of mine at work is also reading it. It sounded like a must-read, so I had to read it for myself.

Published in 1948, it has been 67 years since Nineteen Eighty-Four was written. The story is set in Airstrip One (Great Britain) in a political Dystopian 1984 where Big Brother watches you on surveillance cameras 24/7. The dictatorship is Big Brother; a Party leader is may or may not be a real person. The main character is Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party, who works for the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue) but he hates the party and dreams to rebel against Big Brother, however he is afraid being discovered by the Thought Police.

There were interesting key terms, which was very informative, words such as doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Thought Police, room 101 and 2 + 2 = 5. Reading about Newspeak was interesting because it is a controlled language where your opinions are limited and it control how much you express your thoughts, i.e. very good or great becomes plusgood. The opposite of Newspeak is thoughtcrime, which is the crime of outspoken thoughts or even questioning the ruling party (which could probably get you killed), as they believe this behaviour is intolerable. Telescreens are installed in both private and public properties to monitor members of civilization who is against the party.

“We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.”

“There will be no loyalty, except the loyalty towards the party. There will be no love, except the love of big brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science.”

The theme of this book is centered on politics, power and brainwashing civilisation. Big Brother and the Party are highly manipulated and have succeeded in creating this power, making members of society docile listening to Big Brother’s every command. I think Winston is a skilful person working for the Minitrue but whilst reading, I felt very detached from him and Julia. The story was more like these characters were sitting down talking about being against Big Brother whilst civilisation continues to be brainwashed, rather than actually doing something about it but I know it would be difficult because they could be killed for doing so.

I am glad I read it because it was so interesting and so different from the books I’m used to reading. I don’t want to spoil anyone, but the last quarter of the book was very good and extremely well written. There was just this one chapter in the book, which seemed to take forever to get through. I thought it was pointless, but once I managed to through that laborious part, the story was picking up and I was getting into it. As for the ending! It left me reeling. I was thinking ‘What?! That cannot be it.’ Before dystopian books became mainstream, there was Nineteen Eighty-Four.

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”


Book Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

  1. Glad you liked it. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on Winston’s mind and how it changes, or more appropriately, how it is born as the novel goes on. You’re right, they don’t rebel in the way they think they do, because they are far too powerless, far too brainwashed to know how to rebel. But whilst no one else changes, you’ll notice Winston does, at least for a short time, he starts to think for himself, starts to work things out on his own instead of finding clues and being told things. Just think of the moment when he watches the Prole woman in her back garden, and he finally realises that the Proles aren’t animals, they’re humans, and even more so, they’re more human than anyone in IngSoc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Thats good you write your dissertation about Winston. It is like a defeated battle because everyone’s too brainwashed to see they’re being manipulated. It was a lot of information to take in but yes agreed, I noticed that too. Well said!

      Liked by 1 person

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