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Dystopian fiction is a genre of books which are speculative in nature and tend to focus on social and political structures. Their authors look into the future and say ‘what if’ the world turned out this way and write their story.
Take the book 1984 for example. George Orwell published this book in 1949 and it was written about the year 1984. Aldous Huxley published Brave New World in 1932 and it was written about the year 2052. These books were big reads for my English classes in junior high and high school. As a matter of fact, I read Orwell’s 1984 as a sophmore in high school in 1984. These books bring up lively discussions because we can compare what is written in the story to what actually happens in the future year the author was speculating about.
Selma’s Book Review
Type of Book
Bradbury struggled to learn in the traditional school lecture environment and only finished high school. He had a love of learning through reading and spent a lot of time doing just that at the Los Angeles Library. The original version of this story was published as The Fireman in the February 1951 edition of the science fiction magazine, Galaxy. Then Bradbury expanded and published it as the book Fahrenheit 451 on October 19, 1953. The title was changed from The Fireman to Fahrenheit 451 due to the fact that 451 degrees fahrenheit is the temperature in which paper would catch fire and burn.
According to Wikipedia, in 1979, there was a different version of this novel published to accommodate high school readers. It removed the swear words and changed a couple of scenes deemed inapropriate at the time. Bradbury demanded that his publisher remove this version from circulation, so in 1980, the original version of his book became available again.
Summary of the story
The story is set in an unspecified city in the year 1999. Firemen were now charged with burning things rather than putting fires out. People were not allowed to own books because the government didn’t want them to know anything other than what the government wanted them to. So, if a family was found to have books in their homes, the firemen would come and burn their houses down. Guy Montag was a fireman who felt that books were important. He winds up getting caught with some in his house because his wife turns him in to the authorities. After they burn his house to the ground, he flees the city and finds some like minded people who he reamins with as outlaws to society.
Reactions to the book
It was an engaging and thought provoking read for me. Getting caught up in the theme of dystopian fiction, I found it interesting to compare what Bradbury predicted would happen and where the world actually was in 1999. There have been book burnings in our history, and governments have tried to control their citizens by only giving them selected information to believe as being the way that things really are. So, some what Bradbury wrote about came true. But it did get me to think, what if it all came true? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Abridged versions of books are created for younger readers to present the main story ideas and not focus on all of the details or some of the more sensitive subjects in detail. The fact that Bradbury’s publisher made and published a different version of this book for younger readers was interesting to me. I can maybe understand taking the swear words out, but don’t you wonder what other parts were taken out of the edited version?
Fahrenheit 451 it is still a popular read for high school english courses. I would recommend this book to young adult and adult readers.
If you are interested to learn more about the author, Ray Bradbury, here is a link Ray Bradbury – Author
If you are looking to purchase a copy, here is a link to it Fahrenheit 451
Currently, the popular dystopian books for young adult readers are The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, The Maze Runner series by James Dashner, and Divergent triology by Veronica Roth. I wrote a review of The Maze Runner by James Dashner, be sure to check out it out by clicking on following link. The Maze Runner Book Review