Reviews Comments: Simply Awful: EDIT
Simply Awful: EDIT
Okay, no one seemed to be happy with my original review of Brave New World, so I will elaborate my opinions. It's not JUST the fact that the book feels like an anti-science rant (until about 14 chapters in) written by a man who had his schooling done in the 1700's. It's not JUST the fact that the writer was such an arrogant whiner, or even that he actually thought this book could happen. It's not JUST the fact that it's a rip off of 'We'. It is, plain and simply, BORING. The narrative style is so stale, sterile and simply distant from the action, that it fails to at any point grab the reader's undivided attention until it's in it's last few chapters. Absolutely nothing is described in detail, to the point where I literally could not picture a single character. (I actually, and I am dead serious, imagined Bernard Marx as looking like Groucho Marx because of his last name, as there was no other description than saying he was short.) And if I could, there's so little description of background that I could only imagine the book's events taking place in an empty void. Now, I mentioned in my original review that the characters were unlikeable. I meant that literally. I never said "Under developed" I never said that any of them were lacking in depth. In fact, I was surprised by the actually quite deep character of Mustapha Mond. But, I simply found everyone ANNOYING. I couldn't stand reading the character's rants about nothing in particular as they had some of the most stiff and boring conversations in the whole World State. Now, I might have over exaggerated about ALL of the characters. I actually sorta liked Mustapha Mond, John (Only at about chapter 13, however) and Helmholtz Watson. But, everyone else? Just plain irritating. Another problem I have with the book is that the plot moves very slowly. Like, the 'plot' starts at chapter 8, out of a 16 chapter book. That's really all I can say. Also, it contains one of the most annoying and cliched aspects of science fiction. It thinks it can create new things by just throwing words together and pretending it's a new invention or device. It's very annoying. Finally, I shall speak of my main problem with the book. It is so self absorbed, takes itself so seriously, and simply ARROGANT that I couldn't like it all.
Please give much more description next time.
comment #18462 doctrainAUM 11th Mar 13
Okay first of all,not long enough Secondly,the world is very fleshed out,just the right amount is left to keep it a depressing mystery ala 1984. The characters aren't the most likable but that's the point of the world,it's supposed to be so messed up that all the characters are one-dimensonal. Even then most of the characters show some dimension (Fanny doesn't and Lenina only just does but that's about it),Bernard,and John are sympathetic enough albeit of the Jerk Ass Woobie variant. Helmholtz is a good satellite character. The worst that could be said was the name choice. Hell it was the first book that correctly deduced that alcohol causes brain damage and it was far deeper than 1984 ever was.
comment #18463 terlwyth 11th Mar 13
This review is not long because I do not feel this book deserves it. I hate this book more than any other I have read. It literally gave me a HEADACHE reading it. I admit that the world is fleshed out, but I didn't feel it did enough. However, to the credit of Huxely, this may have been because in the narrative, the characters themselves have little understanding how the world works. And I said the characters were unlikeable, not lacking in depth.
comment #18468 LitleWiggle 12th Mar 13
Complaining about the characters being unlikeable is beautifully ironic. A world where they make all the characters likeable at the cost of their depth and their ability to challenge the reader sounds like something out of a novel =D
comment #18471 TomWithNoNumbers 12th Mar 13
I feel like this review pretty much just summarizes the entire point of the novel in the first place. It's not really supposed to be a pleasant experiences. The characters who show depth are the ones that are punished. I suppose the boring narrative style is a legitimate complaint, because it's purely subjective.
comment #18473 JobanGrayskull 12th Mar 13
I actually have more to say, I only stopped because of the character limits. If anyone wants to debate on my complaints, I'm willing to listen.
comment #19073 LitleWiggle 23rd Apr 13
Well if you're up for it, I'd wouldn't mind, although I don't want to go to far or anything, so if at any point you think I'm pushing it too much or you don't feel like talking about it more, that's cool with me and I'll stop. I would argue that the idea in A Brave New World is for there to be real purpose and greatness in our lives there has to be discord and unpleasantness. People want a situation where everything is nice and unchallenging and likeable, but ultimately that creates a bad sterile world around us. So if all the characters in A Brave New World were pleasant likeable people and it was easy to see them go through their lives and nice to be in their company it would also rob the story of it's greatness and purpose and message. ABNW doesn't want to create a nice experience for you, it wants to create a challenging and thought provoking one, and the horribleness of the main characters is a part of that. In fact, the reason why they're able to step outside the bounds of their society and question the status quo is because they're these flawed people. If the Bernard wasn't miserable and proud he would have never have left the comfortable path of his life and done anything of note
comment #19081 TomWithNoNumbers 23rd Apr 13
The boringness I won't particularly defend though, I can see what someone might feel like that and that probably isn't part of the overall statement
comment #19096 TomWithNoNumbers 23rd Apr 13
Sorry this is coming out a bit scatter brained, I'm finding myself thinking over what you said, so it's not coming out as a neat idea, but for the 'slow' saying the plot starts at chapters 8-16 is a bit misleading. Everything before about the society they live in and what its like to be in that world is much more the story than the goings on themselves. Learning about how the society operates in the norm is more the point than learning how it changes, if anything some of the more vital points stop when it has to get into the down and dirty of what the Savage is experiencing. It's first and foremost an ideas piece, less a story for entertainment, and those ideas start in the first chapter
comment #19097 TomWithNoNumbers 23rd Apr 13
You know, that was never something I really considered. It doesn't really help me enjoy it, but now I can see why someone might. To me, the actual notion of the book's message of necessary struggle never really ever appeared until John and Mustapha Mond had their argument. For the plot starting at chapter 8, I suppose I should have actually stated the conflict began around that point. For me, it felt like the first 3 chapters being cut would have made little difference. (Though, Bernard's introduction DOES give a good indication of what his character arc will be) When I spoke of the characters, I realize I'm not articulating my feelings well. The characters are meant to be horrible, I understand. The problem is that they aren't actually interesting enough to carry it. (Had the book been about Helmholtz, I might think differently.) They are simply the cardboard cutouts their society shaped them into. I apologize as well, I'm a bit out of it right now, so I cant say everything I'm thinking too well.
comment #19118 LitleWiggle 24th Apr 13
What you said seemed pretty clear and reasonable. I don't think I can make many arguments that the book is well written or particularly interesting as a story, it has the idea of the conflict between a happy content society or a less happy striving one, which I think is a quite deep idea but if you aren't greatly interested in that alone, I can't imagine anything else in the book would hold it up. I don't even think it particularly works well as a distopia because most of the future predicting is pretty dated and he made it fairly lame in service to his point (like when he combines two worlds as you rightly called out in your review). And I think it was a misstep to have an all controlling government impose happiness on his society because I reckon it's more likely to happen naturally as we choose for ourselves and don't put much thought into the grander details, whereas if it were imposed someone would push back out of contrariness.
comment #19122 TomWithNoNumbers 24th Apr 13
The sad part, to me, is that there are parts that are well written, but Huxeley's style is too....bland to let it really shine through. He describes things so sterilely that you just can't really care about what's going on. I actually think this book might have worked better as an essay describing two societies. Then the style would have been much more reasonable. The future predictiing itself is actually my biggest problem. I read the foreword to the novel, and Huxeley is so....arrogant. He seemed to literally believe that all this stuff was actually going to happen in less than a hundred years. And, he seemed too determined to bring up the fact of religion than the science suppression, the stifling of free thought, or the smart shaming. And the worst of his 'add two words together' ideas was "sex hormone chewing gum." And I believe you make a good point that WE are more likely to create the World state than any Government. That actually would have made a much more interesting book.
comment #19137 LitleWiggle 25th Apr 13
If you want more backup for the book's awfulness, I think I have two reviews that can help. Mark Rosenfelder had a blog post about the novel here: http://zompist.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/brave-new-world/, which does a good Perspective Flip on how the supposed villain of the story actually has a much better case than the supposed "hero", but I personally find Adam Cadre's thoughts to be much more satisfying, because he outright tears it a new asshole, pointing out what a piece of shit John is, how bad the writing/"satire" is and how vile its message that "suffering is ennobling" is: http://adamcadre.ac/calendar/14/14432.html. (Bonus points, he also points out the same problem you identified about how it reads like a bad essay instead of a work of fiction.) [And yes, I object to Tom's headscratching comment that the world needs to be crap so that our lives can have real purpose or greatness. It's astonishingly sociopathic to dismiss people's real suffering or the injustices of the world with a hand-wave that this is just the way it is, to paraphrase Bruce Hornsby. Fuck that noise indeed.]
comment #21029 Sen 9th Sep 13
Also, I would like to request proof that "People want a situation where everything is nice and unchallenging and likeable, but ultimately that creates a bad sterile world around us." Or in other words, source this crap right now. [Citation needed]. Point me to a link between a bad world and increased human greatness - seriously, are you arguing that people starving to death or dying in poverty is good because it gives *our* middle-class comfortable lives meaning? WTF?!. It's funny how countries that are doing quite well in socioeconomic indicators like Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland still have creativity and great lives. It's almost as if your entire argument is bullshit.
comment #21030 Sen 9th Sep 13
People have done plenty of surveys to find citizens' happiness by country, but the results are always inconclusive. To give one example, there's the Happy Planet Index. It measures quality of life by three factors: experienced well-being, life expectancy, and ecological footprint. If you apply all three factors, it gives the impression that happiness correlates to national wealth and average citizen income, with a few exceptions. When we only use experienced well-being, it has more exceptions, like Thailand, Trinidad, Columbia, and Turkmenistan scoring unusually high. So, does this mean that more wealth and luxury increases happiness? Hard to say. Some people say Denmark is the happiest nation, others say Nigeria. I just don't put stock in any of these reports.
comment #21031 doctrainAUM 9th Sep 13
Sen 9th, Tom was actually saying that he thought that stuff was the point the book was making. Anyway, thank you for linking those two wonderful posts.
comment #21032 LitleWiggle 9th Sep 13
@Sen. There are a very significant number of people in the world who don't value happiness over all else in their lives. There are people who will willingly drive themselves to misery for scientific process, for religious purity, freedom of expression or for influence over the course of humanity. The fact that pain and suffering can be positive driving factors is an evolutionary certainty. Pain and suffering only exist because they can be positive driving factors that have evolved in a competitive environment to best serve an organisms ability to grow and continue to survive. If you want historical records instead of evolutionary logic then look at the founding of any nation, or how any country became democratic. Would the USA have rebelled if they weren't indignant at their situation? But of course the biggest problem is that you are completely forgetting any form of middle ground between a society forcibly engineered around happiness and eliminating human suffering. Your making it sound like the author was advocating kicking kittens in the morning to sustain a healthy lifestyle. It's entirely possible to do your absolute best to stop people from starving and not focus on happiness as a goal. In fact if middle class people weren't so content with their comfortable lives and focused on being happy, maybe less people would starve. Do you know that we'd be meeting our millenium goals if we spent 1 pound on starving people per 16 thousand pounds we spend on our well being and comfort? And yet we can't do that because the actual ratio is we spend 32 000 pounds on being happy per one pound we give to another cause. The greatest fighters for social justice and the well-being for others have always been people not primarily concerned with achieving happiness, Gandhi and Martin Luther King weren't know for leading uneventful happy lives and no-one who gives up their TV to work for years in a third-world country is prioritising happiness. Most of all, it's a mistake to assume that A Brave New World was advocating the reservation as an ideal. It wasn't, people living in poverty and misery was pictured as a brutal existence that squashed culture and encouraged more harsh suspicious and hostile relationships amongst the people in it. In the reservation the 'hero' was so unhappy that their first thought was to leave that world behind. He was ostracised and as was Shakespeare. So how can that be interpreted as the author advocating squalor and pain? What the author seemed to be advocating was a middle ground, or maybe no easy solution at all. The savage never found a way to make his life as he wanted it and was driven mad by the contradiction. Maybe there is no easy way to organise the different values of millions of people and find a balance between comfort and excitement and risk.
comment #21034 TomWithNoNumbers 9th Sep 13
^ This. I never thought of John as necessarily a character to be idealized, or an Author Avatar. He was tortured. He committed suicide because he simply couldn't coexist with the rest of the world. The simple possiblity of sex drove him to violent panic and rage. Maybe we're meant to sympathize more with the Savage than, say, Mustapha Mond, but the narrative makesi it very clear he has his own issues.
comment #21035 Robotnik 9th Sep 13
Heck I would argue we're meant to be pretty sympathetic to Mustapha Mond. He's the only human depicted as not horribly flawed, he's one of the humans that understands the value of high art, he shows pity for the actions he makes and sighs at some of their consequences, talking wistfully of the island and genuinely smiling at the chances that it will open up to people. Instead of punishing the people who broke the system he tries to arrange fairs to be best for them And unlike most other characters he's not trapped in a bubble of inoffensive happiness. He has daily burdens and his aim isn't to seek out his own comfort, but to sacrifice it in small ways to improve the comfort of others. I think it was meant by the author to be a surprise when you got to the top and found that it was a decent man and not a monster running things. It's nice people going too far
comment #21039 TomWithNoNumbers 10th Sep 13
comment #21040 TomWithNoNumbers 10th Sep 13
I agree with Tom. It's very rare in actual history that societies are ever set up by people in it just For the Evulz; they virtually always have some idealistic objective in mind. In this case, after the worldwide devastation of the Nine Years' War - the book was written before the development of atomic weapons, but nukes had to have been used and Mond confirms during his history lecture that chemical weapons were used on a large scale - a lot of intelligent, well-meaning people would have seen it as only logical that the whole rotten structure that preceded the catastrophe should be thrown out and a completely new society built in its place. And one can certainly see how a unifying philosophy might have developed that saw things like familial ties, monogamy, excessive individuality and religious fanaticism as major contributory factors to the failure of the old society, and saw technology as the key tool needed to pull the world back out of chaos and into order and "Stability, Identity, Community".
comment #23138 jadmire 7th Feb 14
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