But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.
There is so much to this book that I don’t even know where to begin. I’m going to break up this review into three parts: the world-building, the writing, and finally the characters.
Huxley’s idea for the future was that it would be a utopia with advanced reproductive technology, free use of hallucinogens, and conditioning humans so that there would be no clash among different classes, or to go by the book, castes.
I’ll admit that it’s quite an ambitious idea. I can only imagine Huxley’s creative mind as he blended illusions of freedom with a bit of silliness to bring us this novel. I mean, words like mother and father are considered vulgar, there’s an orgy scene with incantations of orgy porgy, everyone goes around in a helicopter, and movies where you can actually feel and smell what is going on!
Okay, that last one isn’t so bad.
But I didn’t feel I was properly introduced to the different castes in this dystopian society. The caste names are thrown around but all I ever got from the books was that the Alphas and Betas were the “elites” while the Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons were workers.
Then we have the separation of the this Ford driven world from the savages or the people who were into religion, monogamy, and did not rely on soma.
Now, while I enjoyed this about the novel, Huxley’s writing was off putting. It tended to drone on; ideas were repeated too often. In fact, I nearly put down the book because of the first two chapters. It was just too much info dump but I persisted because I wanted to finish this book. I wanted to be introduced to a dystopian world where passion and desire ran wild, where everything could be pacified by a drug, and in that, Huxley did not disappoint me. I thought it was quite funny he named his character Marx though.
I found the Savage’s take on this utopian society quite interesting; how this society perceived him and how he reacted to it. It was in that part of the novel that things got really interesting for me because, whether it was intentional or not, the characters were too shallow, too juvenile, too bland for me to actually care anymore. I guess, that’s how it is in a society where community is more important than identity. Not even Bernard’s dissonance could make me feel engaged with the novel. Dialogues and certain descriptions just weren’t engaging enough.
Huxley really went all out with the world he created for this novel but then, beyond that, it all feels lost. It’s like even the author didn’t know exactly how to create chaos in a world where everyone was conditioned to be happy and content with their lot.
Brave New World is certainly entertaining but, for me, not thought provoking at all. Just an outrageous fascination for its premise.
First published in 1932
On the book: Look in the mirror: do you see Lenina Crowne looking back at you, or do you see John the Savage? Chances are, you’ll see something of both, because we’ve always wanted things both ways. We wish to be as the careless gods, lying around on Olympus, eternally beautiful, having sex and being entertained by the anguish of others. And at the same time we want to be those anguished others, because we believe, with John, that life has meaning beyond the play of the senses, and that immediate gratification will never be enough.
– Margaret Atwood
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