So I finally got around to reading Brave New World. The only thing I knew about the book was that some people say Huxley was right in his prediction of what our society would be like and not Orwell and there’s an argument over whether this or 1984 is the better book. So after reading it my opinion is, well, the Nostalgia Critic put my opinion of the book nicely here.
Now for the long version:
Brave New World is about a futuristic society where everyone is a test tube baby and are sorted into five castes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon. In this world we meet Bernard Marx, an Alpha Plus who is starting to show signs of him not fitting into his cast. In time his boss send him on an assignment, along with another Alpha Lenina Crowne, to “the Savage Lands” in New Mexico. It’s here they meet and take back a savage who was born from one of the test tube babies.
That’s about as far as I got into the book. Here’s the thing: Huxley had some great ideas for this dystopian society. The idea that everyone is a test tube baby designed to fit perfectly into their caste, no religion, no families, promiscuity is accepted and there are no such things as families. Then there are those “savages” who live outside this society who do the opposite. It’s a great idea to show how these two different societies deal with each other and how they clash.
The major problem here is that the story is just so damn boring. I’m sorry, I really dd not like the book. The writing was dull, didn’t flow nicely and was drier than a bone in the Sahara. The characters themselves had zero personality. All they did was further Huxley’s view of what each of them would do in the situations given to them without any emotion or original thought to them. Bernard is nothing more than a walking zombie with no direction and and just nods at everything. Lenina is the typical whiny woman who just wants to have fun and almost faints when she saw the Savage Land.
As an FYI, in the edition I have ( Perennial Library, 1998) it took them 110 pages just to get to the Savage Lands. Seriously, NOTHING HAPPENS IN THE FIRST 100 PAGES OF THE BOOK! I understand establishing the setting and world building, but Terry Pratchett is able to do that perfectly in THIRTY pages.
For those who are saying this book is supposed to be a political satire of the 1920s/30s, great. I like political satires if done well. It was not done well in this book. The edition I have also says that many critics at the time bashed the book for being ” weak in plot and characterization, shallow, mechanical in structure and monotonous in tone.” I totally agree with those critics. These same critics were also bashed for “not getting” this book. Me, along with those critics, get what Huxley is trying to say; It’s just everything that makes a good book is absent.
If you want a good dystopian novel, read 1984, Animal Farm, The Running Man, Fahrenheit 451 or The Giver. They’re so much better than this book.