TBTB (Throwback Thursday Books) – Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


 As the American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week, I recalled Ray Bradbury’s  Fahrenheit 451 , a dystopian novel inscribed for the temperature at which paper burns. Books are  illegal and “firemen” such as Guy Montag incinerate any books found.

 Like Knowles’ A Separate Peace, I don’t list Fahrenheit 451 among my favorites. Still and all, I  appreciate  Bradbury’s message. This is what could result if we continue to ban books in our libraries.

 To learn more about Banned Books Week, check out Banned Books Week | Celebrating the Freedom to  Read: Sept. 21-27, 2014 .



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Contemporary vs Classic

Rebels: City of Indra is a dystopian novel “written” by Kendall and Kylie Jenner; 1984 is a dystopian novel written by George Orwell. Faced with copy from both, can you tell who penned which? | Jezebel

Jezebel asks us to guess if it’s the Jenner Sisters or George Orwell… Click on the link and see if you know who wrote what!

Jenner Sisters or George Orwell? Guess the Dystopian Fiction Author

Beth Revis’ Across the Universe

Across the Universe by Beth Revis | LibraryThing

Across the Universe by Beth Revis | LibraryThing

Revis, B. (2011). Across the universe. New York: Razorbill. 9781595143976

One of my colleagues recommended this book to me. Since that’s not my favorite Beatles song, I wasn’t interested. Saying just as much, my coworker said it had little to do with the song. As I was “between books” so to speak, I pulled Across the Universe off the shelf and checked it out by the end of the workday. I began reading it on a Friday night and finished it the following Sunday. Did I mention it was around 400 pages long?

Sometime in the near future, our first narrator Amy and her parents embark on a trip, taking them from Planet Earth to Centauri-Earth. Since the trip takes 300 years, Amy’s geneticist mother and military father are frozen in time with cryogenic technology. Amy’s also put under. However, she has dreams and nightmares.

The second narrator is Elder, a teenage boy who has known only life in the Godspeed. He will be the leader of the Godspeed society when he grows up. When someone puts Amy and others out to thaw, Amy meets Elder and the others controlled by Eldest, the sinister tyrant. Amy and Elder team up to save the ship and their own lives.  

This book was quite the page turner. I liked the conflict, appreciated the questions that Revis asks of the reader, and mostly, I enjoyed the challenge of thinking. Of course, I didn’t care for everything and had a question or two after I finished the book. My coworker and I wondered if a sequel is on the way. I’ve since discovered there are more to come! My only other complaint was that Amy seemed a little immature for a seventeen year old girl. As Across the Universe is Revis’ debut novel, I will give her a break. Her next book will be better.

It’s worth mentioning that this book is for older teens. Some events within the covers are: mating/sex, violence, and suicide. However, I don’t believe the author championed any of these issues.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – Across the Universe | The Beatles 

Places : Earth, Centauri-Earth, USS Godspeed 

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In the Grips of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro | LibraryThing

* 1001 Books Book (2006)

Ishiguro, K. (2005). Never let me go. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 9781400043392

Going in reverse chronological order, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go is Number 1 on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Finding it on the shelf at the library where I work, I pulled the book, started reading, and found myself in Chapter 2 by the end of lunch. Ishiguro, born in Japan, moved to England with his family at the age of five. I read somewhere Kazuo Ishiguro was the only one in his family who spoke English. I felt his isolation in Never Let Me Go. The author has written numerous novels, including The Remains of the Day.

Never Let Me Go begins with the introduction of the narrator, thirty-one year old Kathy H. She has been a carer for eleven years. Carers watch over donors and Kathy takes pride easing the burdens of her charges. Kathy H. lives in her native England sometime in the late 1990s. She grew up at the prestigious Hailsham boarding school. Hailsham almost seems idyllic in it’s nurturing the learning and creativity of its students. Hailsham also placed an emphasis on poetry and art.

Two of Kathy’s closest friends from Hailsham were Tommy and Ruth. Eventually, Tommy and Ruth become donors and Kathy becomes the carer for both. Together, they ponder what Hailsham is all about and their place in the equation. However, when they uncover the answers, they do not solve the problem.

The title, Never Let Me Go, comes from a song by fictitious American singer Judy Bridgewater. In the song, Bridgewater expresses how she does not want to be separated from the one she loves. Kathy also does not want to be “let go.”

This novel is what one of my professors would have called a Platonic novel. Like “Allegory of the Cave,” the characters and the reader learn things that alter them and things they cannot unlearn. It took me sometime to shake how the book made me feel. If nothing else, this book is provocative. While numerous book reviews and Wikipedia tell you what happens, I will let you find out for yourself. However, I will say it made me very sad.

At first, I wondered why kids like Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy didn’t ever hear from their families. In addition, I questioned the definitions of “carer” and “donor.” I had all sorts of theories from museum employees to school endowment workers. Ultimately, Ishiguro pulled the rug out from under all of us when we found the true nature of the students’ “uniqueness.”

Yet, when the reader discovers why Hailsham exists, there is no fight or flight attempted by Kathy, Ruth, or Tommy. I would have liked to have seen Kathy attempt at least one of these things. Since she did not, I was very disappointed. By the end of the book, I did not feel she had or would gain any peace, either.

Based purely on the questions this book raises, I give it three and a half out of five pearls. On the end of the book, I give it one and a half pearls.

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