Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Book Review

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 60th anniversary edition

For years, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury has bombarded my news feeds. All the authors I follow have read it, mainstream media has made two movies about it, and thousands of people have said how Ray Bradbury was an important figure in sci-fi literature.

Once again, something everyone recommended did not live up to the hype.

It’s moments like these that make me hate writing reviews. I don’t dislike artworks to be contrarian. I don’t want to be the guy who hates something everyone else loves *cough* Shape of Water. But this is what happens whenever people recommend things to me.

Fahrenheit 451 is a novel that hit all the wrong notes in execution, not concept.

I suppose I should start with the thing that bugged me the most about Fahrenheit 451, the prose.

Ray Bradbury’s use of repetition in this novel drove me crazy. He would drone on and on long after his point has been made. Bradbury would also repeat certain words or phrases as if an echo lived inside the book.

Ironically, Ray Bradbury also created one of the most memorable opening quotes, “It was a pleasure to burn.”

But these quotes are few and far between. Fahrenheit 451 is a confusing whirlwind of prose that circles around the point and leaves you confused. A novel that is borderline purple prose and frustrating to read.

My only hope was for the characters and plot to save me from this oddly written book.

Guy Montag is a fireman. He lights houses on fire if they contain books. Books (in this world) are heretical devices to instill impure thought. The government wants the world to only consume television and radio. Citizens are media junkies who don’t question policy, don’t rise up in revolt, and are permanently dumb.

Yes, this concept is as fascinating as it sounds. This is why Hollywood made two movies about Fahrenheit 451. In fact, this book is more relevant today than it was back in 1953. For instance, how many people do you know that read books? I bet you can find someone who can recommend what Netflix show to watch but can’t recommend a single book to read. Fahrenheit 451 started out as fiction and gradually became non fiction.

I wanted to like this book, but I couldn’t. And the characters were not interesting enough to save it.

Guy Montag is the protagonist. He starts off as a fireman who burns books. Then he meets some people who make him question why he’s burning books. He’s an OK protagonist but not someone you would remember if you met him in an elevator.

Mildred on the other hand, was freaking annoying. She is what Montag does not want to become, a media junkie. She has a hard time focusing on topics and goes off on tangents that have nothing to do with what Montag is talking to her about. They speak to each other as if they are having two different conversations.

I understand why Ray Bradbury wrote Mildred this way. That made sense to me. What I didn’t understand was why Montag married her in the first place. How can you love someone who can’t talk about anything except what’s on TV?

I needed more depth. I needed to feel as disappointed as Montag felt when Mildred betrayed him. Their marriage was a plot device rather than an actual relationship.

Again, I get it. Their relationship was not the focus of the book. Fahrenheit 451 is a story about burning freedom of thought, not someone in a loveless marriage. The idea is sound, but the convoluted prose and two dimensional characters makes it difficult for me to recommend this for a read.

I give Fahrenheit 451 a . . .

Two out of five stars.

Click here to read last month’s book review, The Wandering Falcon

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Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games. Buy his books here: https://www.thesilverninja.com/purchase/