Book Review: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Brave New WorldBrave New World by Aldous Huxley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary: Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…

Huxley’s ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.

Review:

It’s a bit difficult for me to figure out what I want to say about this book. On one hand, I want to rave about it, and just talk about how good it was and how easily I could read it over and over. On the other hand, I want to scream about the characters and how messed-up and awful the world was.

I’m so conflicted. Well, I guess I’ll start with what I liked.

Brave New World was unlike any other dystopia I’ve ever seen before. Sure, the core elements were the same- an all-powerful government, restrictions on society that no one really even wants to break, some sort of tragedy in the past, and a protagonist who slowly realizes that the society is wrong- but the way it was executed was pretty unique. After all, a society that runs on cloning, with a serious caste system in place? Subliminal messaging for every child? People just having casual sex all the time, that being expected, and just loading up on drugs every time they felt anything? Or for fun? Or just because?

Brilliant. Insane, but brilliant.

It was really clever, the way Huxley’s infodump was actually a lecture to students- it made it much more interesting to read, because it felt like the story was getting started very quickly instead of just giving the reader straight exposition. I quite enjoyed how elements of the world and story were revealed gradually.

The worldbuilding itself was fantastic- it felt plausible and realistic, but still within the realm of sci-fi. It wasn’t described too much, but just enough that it was possible to read between the lines and figure out what the world was really like. There were parts of it that felt a little strange to me, like the Savage Reservation, but those were only minor issues that I could move past really easily.

I think that the part of the book that I liked the most was the debate between John Savage and Mustapha Mond at the end. It fit the theme of the book very well and revealed a lot about why the world was the way it was. Honestly, that was the part I read the fastest just because I couldn’t stop reading.

As for the bad, well, I honestly didn’t really like many of the characters. Bernard and Lenina irritated me, Linda was just…strange, Henry, while mostly absent irked me with his attitude, and while I liked Helmholtz and Mustapha Mond, they weren’t really in the book enough for me to get to know them. I liked John (especially with his “impudent strumpet”), but there were times, especially near the end, when he simply irritated me. Honestly, I couldn’t care less if the characters lived or died, with the exception of Helmholtz and John. I just didn’t like them enough.

Also, there were parts of the book that I found a little boring- much of the beginning and middle moved quite slowly and I just wasn’t invested in the book then. Thankfully, those parts weren’t long enough to be completely unbearable, and once they passed, I became invested in the book quickly. Overall, it was an excellent book, and while I still liked 1984 better, this was still excellent.

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