Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television ‘family’. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people did not live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.
This is probably the first time I read a typical “school” book of my own accord, and I can affirm that even reading it outside of school doesn’t make it that much better to read. I read it in one sitting as I was working at the library, and even being in that peaceful environment couldn’t get me to enjoy this one much.
I think what the story was trying to say was that when people stop caring that someone will be able to come into power, like the firemen, and make people believe whatever they want. It also talks about how people will cling to anything they can when they don’t feel like they have anything else, like how Guy’s wife clung to the parlor “family”.
I also understood what the book was trying to say about peer pressure! There were some people in the world who did want to keep their books, but since the majority did not, they just went along in order to not stand out. This I understood.
I could even understand the story of books being censored by the people. This was a bit shaky, as I do like for characters to not be stereotypical, and if I see this happening in a book, I will not hesitate to mention it. Sure, I don’t mean for the author to completely cut the character or give them no personality, but it is important to me that people are represented fairly in literature. Nevertheless, I did understand the author’s point of “You can never please anyone.”
The only thing I really just couldn’t get into was the characters. They all just seemed so dry. I think that this was the point, that without the books the world would be dry and people would forget how to feel. But in my opinion, I felt that this could have been conveyed without making the book feel dry to read. I couldn’t connect with Guy’s wife, even though she was clearly going through mental turmoil and tried to commit suicide. Beatty should have been an interesting character as a bit of a “villain” but he’s just following the crowd. All of the characters have no backstories, and the only unique character was Clarisse who was only 17 and disappeared at the beginning of the book.
I’ve heard such great things about this book, but for me to like a book, I really need to be able to find some sort of similarities with me and a few of the characters and be able to connect with them on a personal level. I didn’t feel for these characters, so I didn’t feel bad for them when anything happened.
I am going to keep trying to read classic novels, and maybe someday I will come back to this book with fresh eyes and reread it!
Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 stars