March online ebook club wrap-up

1984This month we read Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell for our online ebook club. This dark, dystopian novel was written in 1948 and is set in 1984. It depicts an extreme totalitarian society in which people are regimentally controlled to the point where they are almost incapable of independent thought. Our protagonist in this novel, Winston Smith, works for the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in this regime which ironically takes on the role of changing the words of history in favour of the current regime. Here he meets Julia and the two begin a relationship (an offence in itself), soon teaming up with the mysterious ‘Obrien’ to rebel against the regime led by the eerie ‘Big brother’.

I’ve seen this book described in other reviews as horror and I would have to agree. The thought of living in this society sends shivers up my spine and I think Orwell depicts this bleak society very well. This is not a happy book at all and I found the description of what happens in room 101 terrifying. It is a shame that Orwell passed away not long after writing this great novel and this world was not explored further. I would have liked to know if there was a rebel group and how the regime came about (but of course, the regime changes the words of history so we are never supposed to know).

As for Winston, I would not have initially described him as a hero because all his acts of rebellion are so subtle. On second thought, however I think this is a reflection of how difficult it is to rebel in this society and the definition of hero falls within these boundaries. The one thing I couldn’t understand was why Winston trusted the person who went on to betray him. I felt like I could predict that from the start and thought Winston’s lack of foresight was astounding. Then again maybe that’s just me.

I think one of the scariest things about this dystopia is that parts of it could happen, especially control of the press. In fact, we see this happen in our everyday society today all over the world. That, in itself is terrifying.

What did you think of the book?

Do you agree with any of the above?

Is there another dystopian novel you’d recommend?