Teen Volunteer Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Book Review written by Stephanie Brock

Stephanie is fourteen years old, and a summer 2021 teen volunteer.

It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.

First line of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 follows the tale of Guy Montag and his conflictions as he lives in a dystopian, book-despising society. He works faithfully at his job as a firefighter, someone who burns books and the homes of disobedient citizens, until he meets people that cause him to question his values and beliefs. Maddened by the constant desire to learn more, Montag finds more and more flaws in the society that he lives in. He makes friends and enemies, one of which is an animatronic canine. There are multiple suspenseful moments as well as thought-provoking statements woven throughout the story.

Even though it was written in the 1950s, the book’s description of a futuristic world is oddly like our current world. It shows the addiction to technology extremely well. Montag’s wife wastes away her time in a room surrounded by screens and false realities. She does not care about the world outside or her neighbors. The book also describes a fast-paced world where silence and rest are unnatural. Nobody takes walks for enjoyment and even when nothing is happening, people are listening to their own personal entertainment in Seashells, the dystopian version of ear buds. One character mentions how communities have become indistinguishable. Every joke is the same. Conversations are dull, only consisting of talk about fancy cars or clothing, or new television shows. All knowledge about classical works of literature and true art are nonexistent. While Fahrenheit 451 does exaggerate some realities, it is still very close to our lives in the 21st century. Bradbury’s imaginings of the future can be somewhat discouraging, seeming as if our world is drifting away from the love of books and knowledge, but it offers hope when Guy Montag fights for change.

An enjoyable aspect of the book is Bradbury’s talent for exhibiting anxiety and creating suspense. It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of the book. In a couple situations, Montag becomes overwhelmed. Bradbury showcases Guy’s anxiety through realistic inner monologues. Montag’s emotions, whether it is stress, anger, or despair, are clearly communicated and can be relatable to those who feel stuck in a constantly moving world. Montag has some suspenseful scenes that lead to moments far from any cliché. With these small but essential aspects of the story, Bradbury draws every reader into Guy Montag’s journey.

However, no book is completely enjoyable, and Fahrenheit 451 has some rough parts. There are a few odd metaphors that can be confusing, and some paragraphs are tedious to read because their topics get overcome by too much poetry. A slightly annoying factor about the book is that it is split up in a strange way. There are not frequent chapter breaks, and it can be hard to find a break in the text. These aspects do not overcome the many good parts of the book, though, and are simply things that were not enjoyed.

There are a few things to be aware of about the book. Characters understandably get angered, causing them to spout mild profanity. As mentioned earlier, Montag deals with anxiety, and overwhelming situations are expressed in a very realistic way. Some sensitive readers who cannot handle emotionally intense situations may want to be wary.

Overall, Fahrenheit 451 is a fantastic book for anyone looking for a classic, but exciting read. It offers topics to think about or discuss such as a fast-paced world vs. a slow, simple life, or the importance of maintaining knowledge and wisdom. It is a wonderful and enjoyable book full of surprises, thoughts, a little bit of poetry, and adventures.

Alyssa Larue
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Author: Alyssa Larue

I am the teen librarian at DPL and the epitome of a book nerd. When I'm not producing our teen or tween short films or getting glue everywhere while making a teen zine, I can usually be found with my nose in a classic, historical fiction, or fantasy read!

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