“Burnt to the Ground”
Eighth grader Erik Bigwood from Hillsboro, Oregon recommends. . .
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Have you ever wondered what a world without literature would be like? If books were completely illegal? This world would be something like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. A great book, it describes a society where a fireman’s job is to burn books, and public thought is all but gone. I personally recommend this novel to anyone willing to view a frighteningly close comparison to our world, and where it might be headed.
The book opens as Guy Montag is walking home from his most recent burn. As a fireman, his job is to destroy any literature. Along the way, he meets a 17-year-old girl who confuses him, eventually opening his eyes to the world of personal thought. After stealing a few books, he runs into an old professor, who further enlightens him. After foolishly reading to his wife’s friends, the fight is on for Montag’s life.
Quotes like “If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn” reveal the deep writing style. This book is filled with lines that make the characters seem almost too real. Guy Montag begins closed-minded and ignorant. After an epiphany, he realizes the faults in society and sets out to help correct them, if only in himself. Beatty, his boss, and the fire chief, is almost the exact opposite. It seems as though he sets out to maintain the world’s lack of opinion, employing all of his cunning, cruelty, deceptiveness, and will to do anything to further his goals. The old professor mentioned earlier, Faber, is calm, intelligent, and a coward.
Sometimes, theme is a subliminal, unnoticeable thing, slowly permeating into your mind, which happens quite a bit in good books. Fahrenheit 451 is a prime example of this. Underneath the story are messages of non-conformity and thinking for yourself. Ideas slowly form in your mind, including those of the risk of conformity dragging you down, making you a mindless pawn, just ready to be controlled. Faber says while telling a story about his late grandfather, “…when he died, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again.” This further confirms the theme, and also says to live life to the fullest, and do all you can to make a mark on the world.
Between the whispers of theme and bold plot, there is something more. Something that pulls you in, and conjures images in your mind. I’m not sure what this is, but some literature has it, and some doesn’t. This book is one of the few that has that special property, which just pulls you in. The realistic way Ray Bradbury writes just makes everything alive, if only on the page and in your mind. For these reasons, I would recommend the book to anyone. While it may be aimed more towards those with some interest in Science Fiction, anyone willing to see the stark reality of where our world might be headed should look into this book.