The “big three” utopian novels are generally listed as Zamyatin’s
We, Orwell’s 1984, and Huxley’s Brave
New World. I’ve read the other two before (although I don’t
believe I’ve reviewed them), but this was my first read of Huxley. How
does he stand up to the competition?
Mankind has developed a stable society, but at what cost?
The Savage tries to free the others.
The exposition about religion near the end. Everything else was dealt
with using a certain degree of subtlety, and then this just gets
spouted off. It’s unfortunate given the elegance of the rest of the
Most dystopian novels have a single, controlling government, with
no indications of any other type of civilization in the world. This
not only brings new motivation for dystopia, but it provides a new
social structure that goes along with it. The shifting emphasis from
one main character to another is fresh, as well. I give the
originality 6 out of 6.
The imagery is very clear. The construction of the world
the Hatcheries is clear from the outset, and the rest of the world’s
technology and structure is laid out as needed. I also like the
justification for limitations on the technology used; it helps
motivate the accessibility of the story for future generations who
wonder why they aren’t using the latest gadgets to do their work. I
give it 5 out of 6.
The story is well designed, with a shifting emphasis and a
well-crafted slow revelation about the society under scrutiny. The
events take place for perfectly justifiable and believable reasons,
leading to a very immersive read. Even if you choose to ignore the
dystopian study (which I don’t recommend doing), the story is still
entertaining. I give it 5 out of 6.
The characterization is as carefully crafted as the plot,
presumably because they are so integral to each other. With this
world, one needs an excellent motivation for change, and it’s
provided. I give it 5 out of 6.
The emotional response this produced was strong (even
my allergy-induced stupor.) I cared about John, Bernard and Lenina.
I disliked the World Controllers and the droves of mindless
soma-munchers. The ending packed an exceptional punch because of
this. I give it 5 out of 6.
The editing was well done, too. The pieces were
with a careful hand, revealing them as needed, and withholding other
information that wouldn’t be useful yet. It’s the kind of editing
that demands a re-read of the novel. I give it 6 out of 6.
Overall, it’s an excellent read, and (in my opinion) superior
to the better-known 1984. I highly recommend it. I give it
6 out of 6.
In total, Brave New World receives 37 out of 42.
Additional Notes and Comments
As always, I take requests.
I’ve still got one request for Cryptonomicon, but I want to
leave that tome aside until I have time to read it in a short
timeframe, which probably means it’ll wait until after finals in
December. The list of other easily filled requests is available here.