I don’t usually struggle to get through books, but boy, this one took me weeks! I know it’s a classic and I loved the setting and entire premise I just really wasn’t a fan of the execution.
This book is set in a futuristic world where promiscuity is encouraged, the word ‘mother’ would get the same reaction as ‘fuck’ and Henry Ford (yes the car) is their idea of a god. Test tube babies are the only norm and with some incredible scientific advancements humanity has finally found a way to be happy. Only not everyone is happy, meet Bernard Marx, a member of the alpha caste, who happens to have a defect – he’s a bit short. Now let me explain the caste system, the society in Brave New World is split into five castes: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. What caste you end up in is predetermined before birth, Alphas and Betas are bred to be more intelligent and beautiful while the rest are destined for a life of manual labour as faceless drones – only they don’t mind as they have all been preconditioned to accept and even enjoy their fate. The lower castes don’t question the regime because it is not in their mental capacity and any Alphas that do either enjoy their lives too much to care or are shipped off to an ‘island’ where they can’t disrupt the new natural order.
So, lets get back to Bernard, he is definitely one of those on course to being shipped away, he doesn’t understand the ignorance of the masses and he’s not happy with the superficial nature of the world, which I do understand. The thing I don’t understand is how he deals with it, constant moaning, carelessness and then he finally starts experiencing what it is like to be a popular Alpha and it all goes to his head and his defining beliefs disintegrate. By this point I was so done with Bernard but luckily this book’s main character switches halfway through to ‘the savage’, an even more unlikeable character than Bernard. Born into one of the few remaining untouched tribes he is brought into the modern world, something that he wanted, only to despair at what he finds and that’s all I’m going to say on the plot for now.
I don’t know what to take from this book, I really didn’t enjoy Huxley’s writing style, a lot of the conversations and scenes felt unnecessary, the things I wanted to know more about were skimmed over in place of elaborate descriptions of the effects of their drug of choice ‘Soma’. The thing I love about dystopian fiction is how close to reality it always seems but this world could just not happen. The conclusion was full of despair, nothing was solved, none of the characters were in a better position, there was no hope, this was it. Not that they really tried to change anything in the first place.
Affiliate link: If you want to read it for yourself you can get Brave New World by Aldous Huxley here