‘You see why books are hated & feared? They show the pores in the face of life.’ – Faber
I’m getting bored with the contemporary YA dystopian books sprouting like mushrooms nowadays that it’s a drag to finish them. They all feel so hollow and empty, the prevalent theme of hope getting the same angle over and over again. Now THIS title is a Bradbury gem. I have a very old novel copy of this one that I never got to finish because it’s a pre-loved edition that could remind you of your grandparents. Hence, my lazy self picked up a graphic novel version that could visually stimulate me and give me motivation to finish it (admit it, you yourself would pick up a graphic novel version because there are lesser words than its novel form, yes?). It’s also the first Ray Bradbury book I’ve ever finished, because I stopped midway Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Guy Montag is a fireman who burns books for a living, as society had already devolved into a world where imagination is curtailed because books ‘poison’ the mind of rebellious and dangerous thoughts. The goverment’s goal is to achieve an ideal happiness in its people through the absence of critical thinking, and now that the boob tube is the main source of entertainment and information, the higher ups thought it wise to burn the sources of intellectual questioning of life. Montag meets a free-spirited girl named Clarisse, and his conversations with her stirs in him existential questions he had long repressed. He slowly realizes that he has just existed but not really lived, and just like the fires he ignited in his job, the flame in him seeks an escape. He begins his fight to save the books, but becomes a lone proponent in the devolved society he’s in. Was he successful in his newfound mission? That’s for you to find out, dear readers.
I am so glad I bought it, and my love for REAL books is a sort of tribute to the late Ray Bradbury. This narrative’s insights and implications can be applied to this generation’s current situation. Although there is no literary lockdown, the advancements in media technology has gravely crippled the bookstore industry. Kids nowadays grow up learning from tablets and computers, and parents who use storybooks to educate their children have dwindled to a minority. Sure, the soft copies of books are accessible, but the written text without the visuals to pique the imagination is a learning device that is moving to extinction. It now results in lazy minds that rely on the click of a button, not the whirrings of the mind. It is a sign of the times that younger generations have poor reading and comprehension skills. Worse, poor imagination. Do you feel compelled to do anything about it? I do! These are changing times, I know, and even I am adapting my reading habits to the availability of gadgets, but I know the difference in minds that are dependent on them, and on minds that enhance the reading experience by still using the real books to get the imagination running (then utilizing technology to discover more ways to do so).
This blog is testament to a request that Bradbury posed to his readers in the introduction of this illustrated novel:
May I suggest that anyone reading this introduction should take the time to name the one book that he or she would most want to memorize and protect from any censors or “firemen.” And not only to name the book, but give the reasons why they would wish to memorize it and why it would be a valuable asset to be recited and remembered in the future. I think this would make for a lively session when my readers meet and tell the books they named, and why. – July 2009
This book blog’s aim is precisely that, and I have lost count of the literature I tried to name and make sense of. It’s my own little way of sharing to the world an invite to continue reading and thinking and learning. Let us all LIVE by reading, and let us put into action the enlightenment we receive from books that pierce our souls and inspire our minds.