George Orwell’s 1984 is an account of Winston Smith, who lives in a highly controlled society where the Party is “always right.” This fictional novel expounds on the outreach of the government to govern over its citizens.
By reviewing this book, I’m not endorsing any particular political view about the book. Instead, I believe that leaders should be well-rounded in the literature they consume, even if it’s contrary to their deeply-held beliefs.
1984 was one such book for me. I was drawn to this book because I have heard so much about it and never had read it until now. As such, I recently listened to it, and it is now one of my favorite books.
First, I’ll summarize the book, give you what I liked about it, then tell you what I didn’t like.
“History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” George Orwell, 1984
The novel followed Winston Smith through his daily activities. Within Smith’s society, he resided in a small apartment with screens that watch his movements. Such screens followed Smith, and the other residents, throughout the day.
Principally, the theme throughout the book is government oversight and that the party is always correct—Smith’s aversion to ‘the party’ stews within himself as he works within his community.
Have you heard of the term ‘Big Brother is always watching?’ So, attempts to protest or escape are futile.
Smith lived in a time of absolute government control. For instance, Big Brother monitored movement through cameras, screens, and programs designed to preserve the Party’s integrity.
Being disgruntled at the omnipresent Big Brother, Smith begins to journal his misgivings in a small cubical in his apartment just out of sight of the camera.
His eventual lover, Julia, becomes an escape for Winston. Between the monotonous routines and Victory Gin, Julia became a rebellious part of his otherwise dull life.
The risk of capture, and subsequent interrogation in the infamous Room 101, was not enough to stop Winston and Julia from seeing each other.
1984 is an explanation of how a totalitarian government rules its people. Also, the Party is always right. Thoughts that oppose the Party are considered crimes, and disobedience is punishable by whatever means the government has at its disposal.
What I Liked
I don’t usually read fiction novels. But, 1984 is now one of my favorite books because of the concepts it addresses. Here’s an interesting question: should the government have absolute control over its people?
What does it mean to protest? Why should the government be afraid of its people? Similarly, Orwell addresses these questions in this intricate novel, brilliantly written in 1949.
I can draw parallels from the novel to the present day. For example, think about how many screens we have in our daily lives; screens, cameras, and listening devices surround our existence, just like Winston.
Most of all, this book helped me realize my own role in society. How can I affect change within my sphere of influence? Indeed, Orwell draws out the comparisons between real life and the fictional world of Winston Smith.
I listened to the audiobook. Indeed, the material was captivating, and the narration was excellent. Moreover, I don’t think that readers lose any part of the book by consuming it through audio or traditional reading.
Similarly, if you have read some of Orwell’s other books like Animal Farm, you’ll see a familiar tone to 1984.
What I Didn’t Like
If thinking is a crime, then I am guilty. I felt like every detail in 1984 was relevant to the storyline.
However, if you’re concerned, some promiscuity may deter some of today’s readers.
I cannot critique Orwell’s writing itself. Indeed, it’s superbly written, and I couldn’t do it any better. However, I wish that he wrote a book called 1985: The Year Without The Party. Alas, we’ll never have such a book.
Winston is a sad example of what happens when people fully succumb to their environments. Although we have doubts, misgivings, and difficulties with the mainstream, we often live within the very society we grow to loath.
Leaders need to read fiction books. Similarly, thought-provoking novels like 1984 help leaders to think critically about their environments and potential issues that may arise. Authors explain injustices through novels and stories because they’re relatable. I would be remiss if I didn’t read this book. I am better off for it.
Overall, I give this book a 10/10.
Read this! If you haven’t already, get yourself a copy. If you want to buy it, click here.
Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!