Title: Brave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Setting: Mostly in a dystopian London, England
Source: Purchased for my own reading pleasure.
Publication Date: Originally published in 1932
Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…
Huxley’s ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.
I read this book to coincide with Banned Books Week. I’m happy to say that I finished it on the last day. Yay! With that in mind, I can see why this is a challenged book. Take into account that it was first published in 1932, I’m honestly surprised it even saw the light of day.
In Huxley’s speculative future, promiscuity is the new religion. Big deal, right, until you take into account that it’s encouraged among small children as well. This shocking concept is used to demonstrate just how much social mores and ethics of this alternative world have changed from our reality. Not only is promiscuity a main theme of the novel, but so is materialism and genetic engineering. Huxley used these extremes as a parallel for how capitalistic and materialistic he viewed society as well as how he predicted the world would be in as few as 200 years from the time he wrote Brave New World.
I enjoyed this novel despite wrinkling my nose whenever the children were trotted out in the novel which, thankfully, wasn’t often. I’m honest enough to say that I didn’t enjoy their role in the novel. I think that Huxley more than made his point about overt sexuality with the other characters in the story and adding in the children felt more like a shock factor than a necessary additive.
What I found most surprising about this novel was how modern it felt when I was reading it. I had a very hard time remembering that this book was written in the 1930s. In the so-called utopian society that was genetically engineered I pictured it, in my head, looking like something out of the 1950s, kind of like The Jetsons. Huxley had some really advanced thinking and imagination with the technology he invented.
This book is a fast read, possibly one sitting, and easy to read as well as to get into. While I don’t think I’d recommend this book to a 8th grade or younger reading list, I would recommend it to any other reader.