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Book Review: “1984,” by George Orwell

Genre: classic; dystopian; futuristic

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Plot Summary: [from goodreads:] Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality.”

My Book Review:  Who hasn’t heard of this classic novel by now?  Of course it’s a must-read, and I had to find out for myself why it is.  I quickly learned that this doesn’t have much to do with how George Orwell predicted the world would be by 1984.  It’s not really futuristic in that sense.  It’s just the year (or, approximate year for no one really knows for certain) that the story takes place in.

This review isn’t going to do the book justice.  Let’s just say it got my inner cogs going page after page!  I wish I had kept a journal of things I came across as interesting, along with my commentary and thoughts but I didn’t have a notebook at the time.  I fairly flew through this.  I will probably want to go back and dissect it even more later.  I recommend an annotated version, commentary, curriculum, or cliff’s notes to go along with reading it.  There’s just so much food for thought!

There were not a few unsettling parts.  I wasn’t prepared for the sex scenes.  There are several, so parents will want to be really cautious if letting highschoolers read this.  The main characters don’t always make moral choices or follow a moral code.  That’s not to say our main character doesn’t try, but at some point any of us may reach a weak spot somewhere.  I disliked the character of Julia.  I found her shallow, worldly, and rather a tramp.  I didn’t really trust her emotionally with Winston.

I felt frustrated with the interruption of Winston’s reading of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, a mini-book within the book which was more interesting than it sounds.  Just when it got to the really good part–!  (No spoilers here.)

Naturally after reading the book, I wanted to know more about the author.  Some readers may be surprised to find that George Orwell himself (pen name for Eric Blair) was a socialist.  He distinguished himself from it in the ordinary sense of the word by calling himself a democratic socialist, but all socialist roads lead to socialism in my book.  There are no checks to keep man in balance once you start playing around with it.  I think he began to move more and more toward this conclusion near the end of his life, though he may not have completely turned about.

I could make this a super long review, but I’d recommend reading the book for yourself.  If you’re looking for a feel-good story, this is not it.  The whole tone is tense, gritty, and black and blue.  I came away from it with two thoughts: A) relief that man is too human to be able to hold up a perfectly rigid system such as Big Brother’s; and B) anxiety knowing that man is too human not to try.

The world goes batty:

I would also recommend:

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2019 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: “Matorni’s Vineyard,” by E. Phillips Oppenheim

serveimageGenre: futuristic; suspense; intrigue

Plot Summary: Mervyn Amory is a British tennis player on his way to Monte Carlo for a holiday.  He takes a train trip that turns out to be anything but leisurely.  When an Italian spy passes on vital information to him just before he is assassinated, who will Mervyn trust?  Can we trust him?  And who is the beautiful Italian diva who has close ties to the Princess?

My Book Review: It’s been a few years since I’ve dipped into Oppenheim, but I have to say this was much more interesting to me than the last two I’ve read.  It had a flavor of The Great Impersonation, as far as the intrigue and atmosphere go.  It wasn’t hard to read, and provided some fun entertainment.

The best part was that it kept you guessing about who you could trust. I can’t say there were any huge plot twists that maybe the average reader wouldn’t see coming, but yet it keeps one suspecting everyone– even the main character.

I felt disappointed in how the Dictator was treated in the end. SPOILER ALERT: I felt the winners dealt him too soft a hand and they dared to trust someone to continue leading a large European country who had just threatened to pitch the continent into another world war.  Who’s to say he wouldn’t ever try something like that again?  On the other hand, I suppose this type of international dealing is realistic, considering how the world treated Hitler and Germany before WWII. END OF SPOILER. Oppenheim set his book in the 1940’s, which would have made the tale futuristic for readers at the time it was published in 1928.  Of course, the dictator-character Matorni represents Mussolini himself.  Oppenheim also had some of this type of foresight in my favorite of his (The Great Impersonation).

I loved the exotic location set in Monaco. Although the story is not historical, the details feel accurate, as if they were.  There is a romance as a side plot included, but I can’t say it was very believable because of how fast it occurred in such a short amount of time.  But if you want a bit of ‘alternate history’ type genre, this might interest you.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Tales of the New Creation

74e83df67809529307b5d27d42af8646Don’t you just love listening to great imaginative Christian thinkers?  Ones who inspire you with stories and well-worded ideas that fill you with a sense of wonder and awe of God and the Christian life…  I stumbled upon The Rabbit Room a long time ago, but wasn’t exactly sure what it was (read more about it here.)  It took me a while to explore it enough to listen to some of the podcasts, but I soon discovered them to be wonderful!  Apparently they annually hold a “Hutchmoot Conference” and some of the podcasts are taped from them.  As soon as I’d listened to this particular Episode, I knew I wanted to share it with my readers!  It’s entitled, Tales of the New Creation, exploring the beautiful doctrine of the Resurrection and what that means in the everyday world we live in.  I found it to be inspiring, and full of references to wonderful literary and poetical classics such as Dante, The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, and T. S. Eliot.  Speakers include authors A. S. Peterson and Jennifer Trafton, along with Thomas McKenzie.  There are three parts to it, each about 10 min. long.  Enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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On Controversy Over New Left Behind Movie

nic-cage-open-letter-sliderI don’t know about you, but I’m getting mighty tired of hearing fellow Christians shooting ourselves in the foot and producing embarrassing testimonies by being so harsh and critical of the new religious movies that have been coming out recently.  I remember there was an outcry from some folks who were planning on boycotting Prince Caspian when it came out because “it wasn’t word for word as the book.”  Other movies are deemed too hokey, or too casual, or too overly-dramatic, or too imaginative, or too imperfect to go see.  It can become a form of self-righteousness.  “I won’t go to see that film because I don’t agree with that actor’s personal life…”  Or whatever the case may be.

MovieGuide recently posted an article and an open letter to Nicholas Cage that I think is very good and worth reading.

The bad in Hollywood keeps getting worse.  But the door is swinging wider open all the time for much good news in the film industry, and for that I heartily applaud movie-makers who have a hand in it!  Keep it coming!  And fellow believers, we’ve waited too long for this opportunity of good, clean Christian art in the movie entertainment-world to be continually shutting down honest efforts.  Instead of legalism and small-mindedness, let’s get out there and make it even better!

“Left Behind” is based on the best selling book by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

 

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Review: The Napoleon of Notting Hill

The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G. K. Chesterton

“That which is large enough for the rich to covet…. is large enough for the poor to defend.”

Genre: comedy-drama; futuristic; alternate reality

Plot Summary: A king of England is selected from alphabetical order to rule as he sees fit.  It just so happens that the man chosen, Auberon Quin, lives for one thing in life: humor.  But when he orders road developers to tear up the little “insignificant” district of Notting Hill, the locals who are led by one fiery young man do not see the joke.  No one could have predicted what ensues.

My Review: I wanted to read this book because I had heard so much of G. K. Chesterton, and wanted to read something other than his Father Brown mysteries.  However, I found it a bit hard to read through.  This wasn’t just a simple story like I’d been expecting.  It was full of symbolism and deeper intent, but I usually had the impression I was missing the point.  It would be much better to read it with a companion guide, to get more of the author’s meaning

There were things I could appreciate and glean from it, though.  The main theme: How much is your home worth to you?  How far would you go to defend it and everything that is good and dear and lovely about it?  I could resonate with this, after having lived in an area where there were those who were quick to build windmills in the very places that meant the most historically and aesthetically to us.

I was glad I read this book after all, as it was one to make the brain work and think.  But it wasn’t what I would call pleasure-reading.  Those interested in Chesterton, or those looking for a brain-stretcher will appreciate it most.

You can listen to a free downloadable audio book version of the book here.

Michael Collins 1921.jpgTrivia: What do “The Napoleon of Notting Hill” and “Downton Abbey” have in common?  Chesterton published his book in 1904, and several years later it inspired one Irishman, Michael Collins, to lead the fight for Irish independence in the early 1920’s—the same political upheaval in which Downton’s Tom Branson was involved in.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Book Reviews

 

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