Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a short, yet classic allegorical novella of dystopian and political fiction. The book takes place on Manor Farm, a large farm where animals constantly feel oppressed by humans. Their anger towards the human race motivates them to rebel against rulership by kicking their farmer out of the farm and running the farm on their own. In Animal Farm–where all animals are supposedly equal–the lives of the animals turn upside down when pigs and dogs begin to rise in power through manipulation and propaganda. Throughout the novel, there’s a gradual progression where the pigs of Animal Farm begin to resemble humans both physically and psychologically.

Although this novel can be a fictional book for children, adults and teens are able to look past the plot and truly understand the story’s meaning. I, myself, am grateful to have read this at an older age so the themes are more prominent and prevalent to real life. Considering that George Orwell himself was a democratic socialist, the novel was a direct form of criticism towards communism, totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, and two infamous dictators–Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Orwell also includes various ways in which the ruling class ridicules and manipulates the working class. The working class is often seen giving up energy and resources for the benefit of the ruling class, yet they’re brain washed into feeling content with their lives, believing that all their hard work is contributing to the farm as a whole.

After reading the novel, I was amazed by Orwell’s writing. I’ve never read a novel which thoroughly portrays the political maneuvering of totalitarianism. The message woven into the book was strong and clear, yet also written in a disturbing manner that will stick to readers for quite a long time. Personally, I enjoy these heavy topics, so it’s interesting to see Orwell’s light twist on the topic so the novel seems more kid-friendly. I also admire the author’s creativity when writing the book. It’s rare to see a writer eloquently convey a revolution. However, it’s more unique to see an author write an ironic revolution that comes back in a full circle and leaves the characters in the same position as they started. The symbolism of personified farm animals surprisingly pushes the plot forward as well, allowing readers to understand and connect with the characters more than humans ever could.

Would I ever recommend this to a child? Definitely not. I believe that it’s important to understand the true message of the novel, regardless of how dark the message may be. Even though many of us don’t live under a totalitarian regime or a communist society, it’s important to understand how we as individuals play a role in our current society and political system. Are we idly standing by, waiting upon others for a better future? Or are we making our own decisions for the future we want to achieve?

– Natisha P.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I was very astonished by the author’s premonition of our current society. He uses Montag as a prototype of human disconnection and the power of electronic devices on us these days. However, the only thing different between Montag and people these days is that he has between dissuaded from the importance of electronic devices but the people these days haven’t.

Truth proved that TV and smartphones are very addictive these days, which the reason why a lot of teenagers are sent to rehab centers, not for drugs or something else, but merely because they cannot stop playing games or going on their phones and computers. But who can say that this is a less horrible addiction than drugs? Not only the kids are like this, but the parents are no different. Some parents often hand their children the iPad to merely keep them quiet, or instead of wasting their time and playing with them, they’d rather the children play with their gadgets. Therefore, Mildred actually exists everywhere, and in my opinion, she is only a symbolism for this phenomena.

Lastly, this novel serves as an admonition to people in our current society. We have no more feelings and are numbed by the excitement and easy amusement offered by the TV. But once the connection is severed from those that we love and those around us, it is very unlikely to pick it up when the only thing we care about in this world is the happiness of ourselves the how many electronic devices we should have to accomplish that.

-Coreen C. 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This novel written by Ray Bradbury is about a dystopian society set in the future. There’s no exact date that was stated, but it can be inferred that it’s definitely in the future. This book is about a society where books are banned. Instead of men fighting fires (firefighters), they start fires instead (firemen). Their job is to burn any books that are found, and if there’s a lot of books, they burn the whole house or building.

The main protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman. His wife Mildred constantly has these devices in her ears like earbuds and always watches TV. He meets this girl Clarisse on the way home from work one night. She was described as “crazy” because of the way she thought.  Her thoughts were more free-spirited compared to the rest of the neighborhood. After this encounter, Montag begins to question his ideals and his definition of happiness.

Throughout the rest of the book, we see Montag go through changes with himself. We see him challenge the idea of burning books, and ends up trying to “save” the books. His chief/boss Beatty finds out and tells Montag to burn his house. Montag obeys and burns his house down, and runs away. Along the way, he meets these book lovers who essentially teach him about knowledge that was lost.

This story teaches about censorship and the idea of burning books which end up destroying knowledge. It is an interesting book, and I do recommend it.

-Phoebe L.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library