Mini classic review: 1984 by George Orwell

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Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101…

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Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

1984 is one of those books that has been on my TBR for ages, probably longer than any other classic novel I’ve been meaning to read. And while I’m glad I finally got around to it, it was completely different to what I was expecting.

The book could be quite dry in some places, primarily at the beginning of the novel as it sets up the governmental and political structure of the dystopian world Winston inhabits, but the second half is incredibly dark and far more compelling.

What I found quite strange when I first started reading this is how it delved into romance so quickly. Winston becomes obsessed and sexually attracted to Julia, who pursues Winston, despite the fact that romantic relationships is not allowed in this totalitarian society. However, I did find this happened so abruptly and that the two had no chemistry whatsoever — coupled with the fact that the romance between Winston and Julia took up such a large portion of the book.

However, this slowly began to make sense as a fascist society would definitely outlaw romantic relationships they don’t have a say in. And of course the ultimate fact that their romantic feelings don’t actually matter in the end, and that the Party is, devastatingly, right.

I’m torn on whether or not to recommend this novel — on one hand, it will devastate you and make you think. On the other … it’s just okay.

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