Review: Brave New World

One of those novels that it seems many were assigned in High School reading, but I never actually read. Figured it was probably about time. 😄

In a nutshell, take the modern world and turn a number of interesting trends up to 11. Dissolve family ties. Genetically engineer children as a sort of uber-caste system. Make sex purely recreational. Add to that the perspective of ’the Savage’. One raised on a reservation without this ‘modern’ world–giving an outsider’s perspective to all the changes.

I think the craziest thing is that this book was written in 1932… Oddly prescient that. It could extrapolate from today’s world about as easily as the world of almost a century ago. Probably a bit more influence from the Internet and social media; perhaps more commentary on how the sexual revolution in Brave New World compares to what actually happened in the decades after the book’s release. But I’m not sure what else I’d see changed. A mark of good distopian sci-fi, that. For better or for worse.

It’s an interesting counterpoint to 1984. In one world, you rewrite the past to control the present. Big Government writ even larger. In the other, you change the present so people don’t even care about the past. At least not any further than ‘how long since the last time I had drugs/sex/media’. It’s interesting to see how different the two can be.

Overall, I’d say there’s a reason it’s taught in schools. Anything can be bad taken to an extreme and Brave New World epitomizes that–taking shots at the modern society of the 1930s and today along the way.

I think perhaps the biggest problem with the book is (and stay with me here) … it never really quite makes a solid enough argument (within the pages) for why exactly this Brave New World is such a bad place. There’s philosophizing galore, but in the end it’s mostly Shakespeare quotes and empty platitudes. I will say, this sort of ‘positive dystopia’ is fascinating to read about, but I feel like it could have done just a bit more.

Such is life.

Still worth a read.