Sometimes it’s good to get your hands on a classic, but sometimes, it’s too late. When you have a book or a film that people have raved about, sometimes that just spoils it for you. For me, I never liked Dirty Dancing or Labyrinth, and unfortunately, Fahrenheit 451 didn’t do it for me either.
The story is of Guy Montag, a fireman in a dystopian future. Houses and buildings have become fireproof, and it the job of the firemen now to go to houses where books, long since illegal, have been reported and burn them. He meets a teenager one night whose candid questions start him questioning the world he lives in, and his behaviour changes.
I think the reason I did not connect with this is partly because I love George Orwell’s 1984, and this seems like a less successful attempt to tell a similar story. That and it felt very rushed, which in some parts was absolutely necessary, but other times I felt that I had barely started to get into the story when it was picked up and taken from me, and I had to chase it. This was, in some ways, the sense of being a short story that was developed into a novella. I really wanted more.
What I really loved the most was the process described in the foreword and afterward. Bradbury wrote of his circumstances at the time, his love for libraries and books and how this love made its way through several short stories, into this book, and later into many other forms of media, including an opera, a play and a video game. The process that he went through as a writer was fascinating, and it is this story that I will personally hold on to more.