I have a list, somewhere, I’ve probably lost it for the 42nd time, but I have a list of 100 books everyone should read. All classic literature. Which is how I landed on my most recent read — Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
I’d heard about the book before but only in general terms. I’d purposefully avoided reading reviews or synopsizes. I do that with 99% of the books I read. I don’t want anything to undermine my experience with the story. So I walked into this book blind.
And I’m glad I did. It’s an unusual story. The settings, descriptions of the characters, and even the dialog feel like they’re right out of the 1960s. Yet the storyline itself is a great post-apocalyptic story. The combination takes some getting used to and can sometimes pull you out of the story a bit.
Huxley’s writing style can be a bit heavy-handed. I haven’t read anything else by him, so I don’t know if the overly long dialog is story specific or not. I will say, it doesn’t make me want to run out and buy other books he’s written.
The story is set in a semi-utopian future where humanity is now created in factories, with different castes of people engineered for different jobs. People are trained to never be alone. Art, individuality, and sadness are forbidden. There is no religion, no marriage, no family unit. Everyone is “happy” and frequently engage drug use and meaningless physical encounters. For me, personally, it sounds like hell on earth. It is a world devoid of all the things I think make life worth living.
As the story progresses we meet a man raised as a “savage” on an Indian reservation in the American West. He goes back to the modern, civilized world in London and at first, dives excitedly into a world he’s only dreamed of. By the end of the novel, he’s broken by this “perfect” world. All of the things he loved in his life as a savage are gone and he’s trapped in an empty, meaningless world.
All in all, it’s a bleak story. If the future becomes something like that, I don’t want to see it. I get why this book is on that list I have. It’s a unique story and way ahead of its time (it was written in the early 1930s). It isn’t a book I’ll reread though. I just didn’t connect to the story enough to want to dive into it a second time.
Next up….I don’t know I haven’t picked yet. Probably something I won’t review — I just picked up a writing handbook I’m excited to read. I’ll dive back into some fiction soon though, I promise.