Since I've read and reviewed ``Brave New World'' it seemed reasonable to review this book also. The world of the book is much unhappier and more evil than in ``Brave New World'', and so this isn't the dystopian novel to read if one likes pleasant things, neither is this the review to read for one who wants no foreknowledge of the plot. Ultimately, it's the lesser of that pair, and I enjoyed it not.
The book can be read in just a few days without issue. I began reading the book years ago, but lost all interest until recently. The book is split into thirds; the last third of the book is dedicated to the graphic torture of its main character. I believe this had a greater effect on readers of the previous century, but technological advances discredit a good bit of the book, the collapses of both Eurasia and East Asia discredit it more, and the torture is so extreme that I found it to be absurd. The first third of the book concerns general life in the society, shown through that main character. That middle third is a divergence from this, after he gains a love interest whom he dates in secret.
The book depicts an unbelievable world with a neverending stalemate that allows its three powers the freedom to go insane, without collapsing to foreign armies. This surely seemed deep and interesting at the time, but is obviously stupid nowadays. The book depicts its party of leaders as an immortal organism with each cell a party member unconcerned about such things as the ethnicities of the other members. The book compares the party and its beliefs with that of the old religions to good effect. The party is power personified and worshipped, in place of a more conventional god. Fortunately for mankind, the truly evil people are far too concerned with their false gods and themselves for such a party to ever be created. No such party will ever come to happen, as Orwell has written, I believe.
The torture in the last third of the book has a speech on the nature of martyrdom, and how the party assimilates its victims before killing them, negating the martyrdom in a way the communists had been unable to reach with mere forced confessions. I believe this to be an entirely uncompelling reason.
Interesting to note is the existence of the ``versificator'', a machine which automatically produces poetry, since this nowadays exists in the form of neural network nonsense becoming ever more common.
That story of ``Brave New World'' holds more verisimilitude, even with its assembly-line people, and I believe it could even be thought to be some sequel of a sorts, although not perfectly so. In both books is the importance of removing the ability for men to compare the present with the past, and to destroy the family as a unit further accomplishes part of this goal, but Huxley's world does this in a believable way, whereas Orwell's world is naturally shrouded in mystery. This mystery is surely a warning for readers to be ever vigilant for the warning signs of such a world, but it also hides the many decades of nonsense necessary to bring about such a world, convienently also at a global scale.
The prose is different from that in ``Brave New World'' and alike in its hold of English and torture thereof with new words, but ``1984'' goes much further with the latter. Unlike the former, ``1984'' impressed me not with its prose; only that dialogue before the last third stands out to me, as I try to recall anything of note. The story has much less dialogue in general, which I like, but the plot is also summarized over long times using single sentences, which appealed to me less. I deem Huxley to have the better prose between the books. I found it to be more creative and clever in its style.
I find it noteworthy that the only two races mentioned by name in the book are negroes and the Jews.
In parts of the book Orwell is too naive, amusingly. The book mentions how each of the three powers are extremely alike, and how the people of each can't be allowed to see the others except as enemies and prisoners of war, because otherwise they'd notice how alike to each other they truly are; that's so simple and sweet, but mostly naive, stupid, and wrong; it's queer to me he genuinely believed it. He was so willing to caricature evil and to ignore it elsewhere that it puts his book into question.
An obvious thought is to compare the present day to the 1984 of the book. There's a nearly-constant string of wars in my country; it's been made very clear that the stupid and insane can be controlled easily by the media mind telling them to believe one thing followed by a contradictory thing not too long later; certain events in the 20th century, from which people still benefit, clearly couldn't've happened, and are lies; people are subjected to near-constant surveillance; and language is attacked to destroy the ability to communicate, such as by removing meanings from words in name of tolerance.
Regardless, there are more than enough sane defenders to counteract this, and the threat of collapse which keeps ever deeper insanity at bay. While the book makes for a good instruction manual, no one seems able to follow it correctly. The book overestimates evil and mankinds' tolerance for it. The insanity and delusions on display in the modern world seem to be the normal manner, with the emperor having no clothes, but still susceptible to reality. I see doublethink in others, but that's naught more than brand-name insanity, common to all times. The near-constant surveillance most people face is naturally, partially participatory, done by voluntarily-purchased devices more than agents of any government alone. The fabrication of history, illegal in many places to question, is most worrying.
The afterword by Erich Fromm in my version of the book notes the hopelessness of Orwell's world, and I find this to be amusing. To be hopeless is good, to have no unreasonable expectations of reality.
I can't argue against that impact of the book, and it should probably be read for that reason alone, but that alone makes it good not. Fortunately, future evil tyrannies of man will be very different.