Apr 20, 2021atrex2015 rated this title 3 out of 5 stars
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, is a book with many layers and lots of symbolism that somehow still manages to fall short. Guy Montag is a man who loves to burn. He relishes the feeling of mercilessly destroying fragile objects. This reflects his job, as he burns books for a living. He lives with his beautiful wife and has no problems with his life - that is, until a girl named Clarisse shows up. She teaches Guy her ways, exhibiting more curiosity and empathy than any person in their right mind would be in this dystopian society. Then it hits Montag, who up until now enjoyed his life: His entire life has been a lie, and the society he lives in is actually terrible. From then on, Montag has to cope with having different opinions under the shadow of an oppressive government, meeting more people and getting into new conflicts along the way.
Symbolism is very common in this book, with major themes being death and rebirth, unnecessary destruction, and the mindlessness of non-thinkers. These are symbolized by the phoenix, salamander, and practically every type of new technology seen in the book. The books in the novel are portrayed as being almost alive, their paper pages fluttering like a bird’s wings. In fact, there is so much symbolism that it takes multiple reading sessions to get it all. This is one of this book’s major issues. Does genius really matter if it takes multiple reads to comprehend it? Why bother adding so much unnecessary subtext, occasionally required for a full understanding of the plot, that will only typically be readable by students and academics? Additionally, while the first act is great, the second and third sections start to drag on. They lack the memorability, and while they technically form a coherent story, they just don’t stick with the reader or make much of an impact. Additionally, there seem to be some very prominent anti-technology commentary, which is very overdone and in this case not supported enough for me to consider it convincing. There are also some parts which may seem problematic in today’s society, including the comment on what would now be called “cancel culture” by some.
Despite the fact that this book has potential, it unfortunately does not live up to it. I give it a 3 out of 5.