Title: Brave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
Genre: Science-fiction, dystopian, weird (is “weird” a genre? it should be)
Series: Not really? There a companion book, Brave New World Revisited, but it’s not a continuation of the story.
Blurb: Brave New World is a dystopian novel written in 1931 by English author Aldous Huxley, and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that are combined to make a utopian society that goes challenged only by a single outsider.
Review: Well, everyone said this one would be challenging and they were absolutely right. I still don’t know quite what to make of this one, and I finished it several weeks ago.
What I can say is that the writing is incredible. We are thrown into this strange place, with its almost alien culture and bizarre setting immediately, with very little time to understand exactly what is going on. Bit by bit, you start to learn more about this future that Huxley has envisioned, but I can see how this book can be off-putting at first. If I wasn’t so stubborn, I may have stopped reading, but I am very glad I kept going.
Let’s talk about this world. There is a definite caste system – Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Gammas, Epsilons, maybe a few more, I can’t remember – and these are determined at birth by how you are “born.” There is no such thing as motherhood or being a parent anymore. Human beings are cloned and created in factories, with different processes used to either make someone smart and attractive, or menial and plain. They are also preconditioned through their youth to be happy with their lot in life. There are no emotions, not really. In fact, it is highly encouraged to become as desensitized as possible.
There are outliers. Bernard works at one of these factories but somehow knows that this is no way to live. There are still settlements of “savages” who still live in a more traditional (to us) way, with families and religion and love. One of these savages, John, ends up coming with Bernard back to the city and cannot fit in and willfully does not want to understand how society works now. He wants to cling to his way of life, but is ultimately destroyed trying.
I enjoyed this book and I am glad that I finally read it, but I don’t think this is one that I will read again.
GoodReads rating: 3 stars. I might have dropped it to 2, but I recognize the brilliance in the writing and this book’s place in the literary canon as a whole. Those two things alone earn another star. 🙂