November 2, 2011

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Review

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Aldous Huxley, what is your deal? I don't know what happened during that whole last half of Brave New World. It was just...weird. And not in a good way.

I've read some classic dystopian novels that left me with a racing pulse and a brain that I'm sure grew as I read (1984, Fahrenheit 451) but Brave New World just left me thinking, "WTF?" This Better Book Title sums it up.

Anyway, it's the future and everyone is born in a bottle (not the Jim Croce song), and takes happy pills, and has lots of sex, and worships Ford, and plays Escalator Tennis. That's life. Everyone has their place. Then some guy screws it up by thinking about how he doesn't really fit in. He might be considered the hero except he's such a douche nugget that I really didn't care what he did. He finds a "savage" who worships God and wants a wife and babies and generally poo-poos everything about this Brave New World. And it all comes apart after that.

I'm not sure what to make of Brave New World. It's supposed to be a parody but takes itself very seriously, although at times it's inadvertently silly. (Escalator Tennis, anyone?) And while I don't mind authors using a character's speech, or in the case of 1984 a book within the book, to make a point, I found the awkward conversation near the end just plain preachy.

In my copy, Huxley looks back 20 years after writing the book and admits that it wasn't perfect but he wasn't willing to rewrite it. Maybe he should have.

I'm glad to have read this artifact of the dystopian genre but there are much better examples out there. Do you have a favorite? 

Ratings:

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8 comments :

  1. I first read this one in high school. I had really just discovered dystopia after reading Ray Bradbury's short story, "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains." I moved on to Fahrenheit 451 from there, and then my English teacher (also known as THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSON EVER) recommended Brave New World. I looooved it, and I have since re-read it. While it does have issues, and the ending is super weird, it was enough to fuel a serious love of books in me. For that, it will always be one of the most influential books I've ever read.

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  2. Excellent review. I really love the better book title, It gave me a chuckle.

    I hadn't read Brave New World. My favorite dystopian would be A Clockwork Orange and The Handmaids's Tale. I hear the best dystopian is The Giver and I was so wanting to win it during a recent giveaway hop, but didn't, so I suppose I'll be buying for myself as Christmas gift. :-)

    Thanks for sharing, I seriously doubt, I'll be putting Brave New World on my TBR list any time soon.

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  3. I re-read this one every now and then. It's a bit humorous although I'm not sure it's supposed to be. Try Anthem by Ayn Rand. Really short, but good.

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  4. Andi- I read this with my book club and several people said it was one of their favorites. Just not mine. ;)

    Ti- I read Atlas Shrugged and now am afraid of any other Rand. I might give it a try though.

    Lena- Love The Handmaid's Tale! I have A Clockwork Orange and The Giver on my shelves to be read.

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  5. I admire you for taking the book on!

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  6. I have this book on so many "best books to read lists" that I did give it a try a few years ago. I made it about 20 pages. But I was listening to the audiobook. Sounds like maybe reading it won't be much better :( sounds blah.

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  7. Your review was spot on! I found the second half just way too weird. The first half wasn't all that great, but at least it felt original. The second half felt as if it was another book, and the author switched priorities half way through.

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  8. I agree with you about the fact that Brave New World takes itself way too seriously at times, and that it was far from perfect but I’m not sure Huxley agrees with us. My copy doesn’t have that note from him but I found something written by Huxley himself in 1958 entitled Brave New World Revisited which is basically one big “I told you so!”

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