The Ultimate Conspiracy Theory

Valeria Gomez, Book Reviews Editor

This book review is bittersweet because it will be my last book review here on the Aviator News website. It has been an incredible three years writing for Newspaper, and it is sad to see it all end. I decided to write a review on a novel by an author I became familiar with in my freshman English class. My first impression on George Orwell came when I read Animal Farm. Though I found the connections between the novel and real situations difficult to understand at first, I still cried (SPOILER!) when Boxer met his unfortunate demise. I recently read 1984, another popular novel by George Orwell. I heard great things about this novel, even spotting it on a list entitled “Books That Changed My Life” at the 2018 Festival of Books. It seemed only fitting that my last book review be an homage to a novel where my high school years started.

The novel is set sometime in 1984, or so Winston Smith, the narrator, assumes. Winston lives in a totalitarian Oceania where people both love and hate their leader, Big Brother. Big Brother is the head of a group called The Party in Oceania. The people of Oceania live in extremely strict conditions with set curfews, occupations, and pastimes. They are constantly watched through telescreens, ensuring they never step out of line. Winston, despite knowing the consequence of having these thoughts, writes his negative feelings about The Party in a journal. No one must go against the Party; if they do, they are rarely seen again. Winston is technically married, but he murdered his wife unbeknownst to The Party. He is eventually captivated by a brunette named Julia. His relationship with Julia was not initially the healthiest; he thought of killing her the first time he saw her crying out loud. However, Winston and Julia eventually formed a small sort of rebellion. They started seeing each other away from the view of telescreens where they could simply bask in the pleasure of each other’s company. All good things come to an end, unfortunately. Julia and Winston are discovered, and he is left with an ultimatum. Should he choose to side with The Party and Big Brother, or will he break away from this damaging government?

As I learned from Animal Farm, there are certain parts in novels by George Orwell that are a little dry. If I am being completely honest, I found it difficult to concentrate with the first chapters in the novel. They simply described Winston’s dissatisfaction with his life and how dull it could be; this boredom was transposed in the reader. However, Orwell knows how to make great endings. The novel was similar to The Giver by Lois Lowry, one of my top novels; this made me want to continue reading. I found Winston to be courageous in his attempts to go against The Party, though the degree of his success is debatable. He at least tried to be a man, the last man. Winston wanted to bring change to his world, though The Party and everyone in Oceania did not agree with him. Orwell shows how much of our lives are controlled by the government, something I didn’t pay much attention to until now. You can never have complete freedom without interfering with someone else’s rights and liberties. 1984 may not have changed my life, but it did help me understand it better. Winston was not strong enough to go against The Party completely, showing how weak humans can be at times when they are faced with a bigger threat. Orwell encourages people to be different from the characters in his novel. He wants people to speak against injustice, to right the wrongs of man, to be different where ordinary is the norm.

I strongly encourage 1984 by George Orwell to any freshmen who recently read Animal Farm, any AP Literature students, or anyone who loves political fiction. Though the novel is a bit confusing and dull at times, it is definitely worth reading for the ending. I, for one, can now say I have strong fear of rats. To understand this newfound fear, you’ll have to read the novel. You won’t regret it.