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This book was published in 1949, and set in 1984, in a nightmarish dystopian world.  Our ‘hero’ – and I use the word loosely, as Winston Smith is in many ways the complete opposite of a hero – works for the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to rewrite the past in order to support the governing body, Big Brother’s, version of the past.  London is now part of Oceania, which is turn is one of the three superpowers in the world, the others being Eurasia and Eastasia.  In Oceania, conformity is essential, not only in behaviour, but also in thoughts.

Outwardly, Winston is compliant and obedient, but inside, he rebels against the world he lives in, and when he starts a relationship with fellow citizen Julia, both of them are risking their lives.

I am in two minds about this book.  Dystopian fiction is a favourite genre of mine, and I loved Animal Farm, also by Orwell, so I expected to thoroughly enjoy this.  However, while it undoubtedly raised some scary but important issues, and certainly provided food for thought, I found myself plodding through it, and not always enjoying it.  The third part in particular left me quite cold.

That said, I would almost certainly recommend this book to others, because the points it raises, while exaggerated to a very extreme and unrealistic degree, are still matters which should concern us.

Overall, it was a worthwhile read, but I would personally recommend a book such as The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as a better novel in the genre.

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