Brave New World
Buccaneer Books, 199?
Originally published 1932
I am reading this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge, “Read a Banned Book” and I can certainly understand, but not agree with, why this book has been challenged and banned multiple times.
It is a dystopian novel before that term was so generously used – a world 600 years into the future, or, A. F. 632 (After Ford). In this ‘utopian’ world children are born in factories and based on the amount of manipulation while growing fetuses, society is determined and divided by intelligence, with the lower intelligences, or castes, being used for menial labor. Science has perfected being able to get over 12,000 viable fetuses of a single live ovary (removed from a female, of course) and producing upwards of 1,000 identical humans. Children are raised according to their class level and educated (indoctrinated) accordingly. As adults monogamy is unacceptable and both men and women are encouraged to have as many sexual partners as they can/want.
• Lenina Crowne, very pretty Alpha female who works with the embryos giving them vaccinations for all kinds of cured diseases
• Bernard Marx, an Alpha Plus male but shorter than the other Alpha males; he also broods and would rather be alone, preferably with Lenina
• John Savage, the man Bernard brings back from New Mexico and is the highlight of society because he is a savage, or, uncivilized, (he was born, not decanted) and who falls in love with Lenina
• Henry Foster, a strapping example of an Alpha Plus male and one of Lenina’s frequent bed partners
• Fanny Crowne, Alpha female, Lenina’s friend who reminds her to not be exclusive with Henry
• Helmholtz Watson, another malcontent in the manner that Bernard is, friends of Bernard and John
• Mustapha Mond, Resident World Controller for Western Europe, head of the society as they know it and a bit of a know it all
Yes, I can definitely see why this book was banned – it is pro-promiscuity, anti-family, and anti-God. Well, I don’t know if the author felt that way but that is what the society he created believes in. In this society babies aren’t “born” – they are “decanted” like so much wine. The words ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘family’ and the like are considered smut and any previous written works like the Bible and William Shakespeare’s plays are banned as pornography. Oh – and everybody’s hooked on a drug called soma. Kind of like an extra strong valium or xanax (which hadn’t been available when this book was written. Makes me wonder if this is where the drug companies got the idea?). Can you see why it was and is still challenged?
The book itself is alright. I know it’s supposed to be considered a masterpiece but it isn’t on the level of, say, To Kill a Mockingbird (which rates a stunning 5 paws out of 5!) The story is interesting, it ends on a downward note and the author tends to get really preachy with his character’s viewpoints – sometimes they just go on and on and on . . . and on. The first couple of chapters were hard to get through because he goes to a lot of trouble to lay the groundwork for his Utopia, explaining the process of creating thousands of embryos and how they are divided up according to what future work they will do. A little boring; I admit I skipped over some the details. I also skipped over the final conversation between Mond and Savage; it just got too heavy and blah.
Rating: 3 out of 5 paws because while I would recommend adults (or mature teen’s) read the book, if only because it has been banned, I won’t be reading it again. Life’s too short to read uninteresting (to me) books.
“The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma.” Pg 149 (soma is the drug of choice for society)
Stuff I found on the internet
The different types of people decanted into Mr. Huxley’s world. You can guess who the upper class is!