Is it read-worth? Maybe it’s because a lot of old-school writers prioritize big words over big moments, but I just couldn’t relate to the characters in this book and that was one of the most important parts of being able to understand the concepts it presents. The complexity, the horror, the total abandonment of most modern morals… This book is a mental exercise in understanding the dangers presented by technology and by the very human desire for happiness. Do I recommend it? Yes, absolutely. It’s not the most readable book out there, but I still somehow loved it. And more than that I absolutely love talking about this book.
This following review does not contain any spoilers (rare for me).
My Summary of the Book
It’s really hard to summarize a book that has so many complex ideas running throughout it so, instead of summarizing the book itself, I’m going to summarize the ideas at the heart of it.
The Brave New World is our world in the future where science is used to guarantee that everyone in every part of the world is happy all the time. Pleasure is the number one commodity, above all else, and progress is meaningless unless it is only intended for promoting pleasure.
But the only way to make sure everyone is happy all the time is to control everything.
The Brave New World, as a result, looks more like a dystopic totalitarian society than something any of us would want to live in. Test tube babies are mass-produced so that as many people as possible look identical to one another and then genetically and physically manipulated to fill certain positions in society. Babies are given electric shocks and even poison to reinforce certain ideas or prevent them from any brain development past a certain point. Hypnotism reinforces this caste system and creates a world of Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons that love their lives and hate the idea of being anything else, anything more.
Being alone is discouraged. Love is forbidden. And any problems you have can be solved with a drug that gives you the sense of fulfillment and contentment you may be lacking.
Everyone is the same and “everyone belongs to everyone else.” Drugs and forced promiscuity are what keeps everyone content. But this at the cost of free will, personal responsibility, and societal growth.
Why I Recommend It
To be honest, I completely and totally want to go more in-depth about this book, and I probably will. But there’s too much to cover to talk about it all here so I’ll probably write a couple posts about the more complex topics found in a Brave New World later on. Right now, all I’m going to explain is why it’s a good book and definitely one you should read.
And the answer is simple: it’s still such a realistic future for our society.
Yes, yes- I know we aren’t going to be mass-producing babies, or promoting promiscuity, or start taking drugs that take years off of our lives every time we put them in our mouth just for the sake of our happiness… But we could be and, in some ways, many people already do.
This is a great book to read if you want to have in-depth conversations about the problems that face our society. Big businesses, pleasure-seeking, the declination of old morals, suicide, and drug abuse are all very real, very modern problems.
I know a lot of parents don’t want their children to read this, and many have even worked really hard to keep this book out of schools, but I think they may want to reconsider. Even though I don’t personally appreciate the complex language used as far as readability goes, it may be the biggest help in making these topics approachable to young adults. Nothing about this book seems sexy. It’s not something that kids will get excited about or think that they want to replicate. The language used makes the scenes in them seem horrifying, not appealing, but still make these hard-to-discuss topics approachable. The book is not without fright, but it is a very good way to start a discussion with your students or child about the topics it brings up.
And, if you’re an adult who hasn’t read this book, I recommend that you do. It gives you very real lessons on the danger of technologies and, more than that, the dangers presented by mindless pleasure-seeking. This is a book that will make you think and everyone needs to read it.