Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: Fahrenheit 451 (Audio)

Summary: Ray Bradbury's internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of 20th-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future, narrated here by Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins.

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 didn’t 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. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life. -- Audible

Last year, my daughter read FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury, and she couldn't believe I had never read it. Come to think of it, it is a bit surprising. She actually liked the book -- didn't love it -- but did like it, and she encouraged me to read it. Well, you know the story. Too many books, too little time.

So a few months ago, I was contacted by Audible about their newly released version of FAHRENHEIT 451 read by Tim Robbins. I figured it was a sign that it was high-time for me to read this dystopian classic. And I did really appreciate it! I think the book is, of course, so profound; and the audio version narrated by Mr. Robbins was amazing. His voice brought an interesting element to this story and he definitely set the right tone with his narration.

I probably don't need to summarize FAHRENHEIT 451 for most of you, but just in case... FAHRENHEIT 451 tells the story of a future that's definitely not bright. Books are pretty much nonexistent and television is huge (a pretty scary thought for us book lovers but not exactly too hard to imagine, right?) Guy Montag is a fireman, and in this world, firemen don't fight fires. Rather they set fires if they find literature or other items that are illegal.

Like many others, Montag just accepts his life and all of the rules until he meets Clarisse, a young girl who starts to make him think. She describes a time when there weren't so many rules, when people were allowed to think for themselves, and when there were books! Montag begins to actually question what he has taken for granted, and he begins stealing books and hiding them in his home. When his crime is discovered, Montag is forced to flee his home and try to escape from his punishment.

I really enjoyed FAHRENHEIT 451 and I definitely see why it's considered a classic. This novel was interesting and eventually exciting; however, it was how this book resonated with me that made it such a special read. Unfortunately, the future described in this book is horribly bleak and not entirely out of the realm of possibility. And that scared the heck out of me! Just imagine a world with no literature and one where our world revolves around television!

I also loved how this book made me think about creative thinking and complacency. Seeing how Montag began to examine his world and the things he took for granted was very enlightening. It actually  made me think about my life and my children's lives. I can certainly see why this book is mandatory for so many high school curriculums.

I can't rave enough about Tim Robbins' narration. He captured the essence of this novel perfectly. I can't take credit for this, but one review mentioned how well he used quiet and silence. I couldn't put my finger on it, but that's exactly right! This aspect of his storytelling made this book even more thought-provoking and intriguing.

Whether you've read FAHRENHEIT 451 or not, I highly recommend checking out this newly released book on audio.

Thanks to Audible for providing a review copy of this audio book.


bermudaonion said...

I'm embarrassed to admit I've never read this book. One of these days . . .

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I love this book.

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

I haven't read this book - like you said, "so many books, so little time..." I do want to read it though and this sounds like a great way to do it.

Michelle S said...

This was never part of my HS curriculum, and neither is it part of my children's. That surprises me because I think it would be a better choice than some of the perennials on the list. You are absolutely correct that the themes of the book are so profound and important. I really want my kids to read it while they are still young and impressionable.