I can't even begin to tell you how fantastic this book was. On my Classics-To-Read list, I read it now because I had to buy it for Jake. He had to read "Of Mice and Men" and this one. He came to work with me one day and we went to the library in the county that I work on my lunch break. He stayed at the library and read "Of Mice and Men" in less than 3 hours, but the library was out of all three copies of "Fahrenheit 451" and had a waiting list. David brought Iz to my office that afternoon, we picked up Jake at the library and headed over to Books-A-Million, where I bought him this paperback.
It's a quick read; 165 pages. Again, I say 'Fantastic. ' Mr. Bradbury wrote this in 1950 and it even more relevant now than back then.
Here's a future Utopia that's really a festering "Dystopia" underneath its shiny layers. (edit later: Wow, I had NO idea Wikipedia called 'Fahrenheit 451' a dystopia! Jake and I were discussing the book this afternoon and he said how un-utopian the world of this book was; a dystopia. Then I Wiki 'Farenheit 451' tonight and there it is: "Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian, soft science fiction novel by Ray Bradbury." Great minds think alike). It's a world where firemen set fires...to books and the houses of those harboring said books. A future world where reading books is illegal. Where knowledge by anything other than interactive tvs and wall-sized screens is punishable by imprisonment, sometimes death.
The shocking part...it's not the government that started it. It was people. En masse. They stopped reading, they stopped wanting to learn. Universities fired professors for lack of enrollment in English, History, Literature courses. Everything anyone needed to know could be spoon-fed to them in two minutes or less (sound familiar?)
How it went from that to burning books, I don't know. But it did. People forget that firemen used to put out fires. They're there to burn. Thinkers are outcasts. They're hobos in railroad camps, or they're incognito, hiding books in their homes, praying they never get caught and their homes get burned to the ground. The world is 100 mph, even driving in your own neighborhood. Everything is now, now, now.
Enter Guy Montag, a fireman from firehouse 451. He loves setting fires. It feels good to watch these stupid books burn. He has a wife totally "plugged in" that they barely speak; no one talks. There's hardly any conversations about anything real anymore. It's all about tv shows, and who's the best looking presidential candidate. There's going to be a war, but it's going on "over there" so it won't bother us. Seriously Topical! Love it.
Guy meets a rather eccentric teen girl in his neighborhood whose questionings, actions, thoughts and words make Guy stop. Cold. And then Hot. There's a fire inside him now. A fire to know why things are the way they are. There has to be more than this. Is it just that books are missing? Why are people the way they are? Guy ends up fighting for his life, fighting for the Book of Ecclesiastics in his head, fighting to get away from a city that disappears in the blink of the speed of light that the jets flying overhead travel in.
A society where no one reads. Where no one discusses anything of value. Neighbors don't talk to each other, families don't talk to each other, they interact with computer-generated people rather than each other. That can't happen, right?
God help us.