“It was a pleasure to burn”. This is how Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (‘the temperature needed to set a book on fire’) starts off. And it only gets better.
Look into the future. There are houses with television projected onto the walls, advertisements that say your name while pushing new products, and firemen that find and burn any books that are in existence, because they are outlawed.
Enter our protagonist, former lover of the flame and book burner Guy Montag, who meets young neighbour Clarisse, who asks him odd questions that trigger deeper questioning on his own life and perceived happiness. It’s nothing like a bathtub story – the conflict involving stealing and hiding books, suicides, and the horror of the mechanical hound that has been programmed to catch him are just a few of the themes that keep the book fast-paced and frankly, frightening.
Bradbury is a genius storyteller, and this book deserves to be read over and over again, lest we forget the power of the written word. As captain Beatty explains, it’s all too easy to summarise, reduce, explain in a nutshell that transforms a whole book into a simple sentence.
Favourite quote: “We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over, so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.”
This review is part of the 1000 books before 30 challenge. Read more about it here.
Featured image – creative commons photo by Shane Gorski