Written by Menna Fahmi
One day you should skip the best-selling and new arrivals shiny shelves in bookstores, and go to the hidden shelf labeled classics, because it was among those shelves that I came across a book that was like no other. Hidden between huge books, like Gone with the Wind and Les Misérables, was a tiny copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I had heard of the title multiple times before with no idea what it’s about, so I just bought it.
The book was originally written in 1953, but it speaks of a different time; a time the writer gladly shall never witness. It speaks of a time where technology has reached its peak, replacing everything even human contact (sounds familiar?), a time where firemen start fires not put them off. It’s a time I would rather die than witness, a time where books become the illegal possession firemen burn. Fahrenheit 451 represents the temperature of paper’s autoignition.
Guy Montag is a fireman; one day after work he meets his neighbor Clarisse, a teenage girl, and has a conversation with her. She is a free-spirited, freethinking girl who leads Montag to the path of questioning himself and life. That day, Montag arrives home to find Mildred, who spends her days basically living in virtual reality, consumed by her TV family (the writer then calls it television or TV shows) and overdosed on sleeping pills, but she survives with no memory of what happened. After that night, he starts meeting Clarisse on his way home. He looks forward to those moments, until one day she doesn’t show up. Later, as Montag and other firemen were burning down an old woman’s house, Montag manages to steal a book without his coworkers knowing. After that day, his life is never the same. Montag goes through, for the lack of a better word, an awakening.
Let me tell you one thing, this book is way deeper than any summary or preview I can give you. It just transports you. I strongly believe in the metaphoric meaning behind everything that took place. I don’t believe the writer meant that specifically books were illegal. I believe he predicted a time when freethinking and creativity will become a crime, a time when people will be so dumbed down by technology that they will live mindlessly without thinking behind the screens of their “smart” devices.
To me, this book was rather a warning than a novel. It is warning us that knowledge is power, and not being able to think for ourselves will be the end of our kind.
Anything I say won’t do this book justice, you just have to read it yourself to know. I give it 4/5.
The book is available in Alef Bookstores.
Did you guys read it? Let us know what you think.