“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I
want sin.” – the Savage, from the dialog with Mustapha Mond.
The events of this book take place in an unusual futuristic dystopian world. Unlike Orwell’s 1984, in Huxley’s reality everyone is happy and live a worry-free life. Humans aren’t born but genetically engineered, grown in labs and conditioned to think and act like everyone else. They stay young for a lifetime and they always look beautiful. When they feel anxious, they take so called “soma” – a government approved drug that makes their uneasiness to go away. They have no attachments, no sense of belonging, no appreciation for art. They have everything available on the tap at any time including having sex with anyone they choose. Everyone belongs to everyone.
Bernard, one of the main characters, is different. He doesn’t quite fit in as he searches for the meaning of life. One day he travels to the land of Savages – a remote place where a group of people similar to the human race as we know it live. There, Bernard meets John the Savage who’s mother was “born” in a happy world but was forced to live at the Savage Reservation for many years. Bernard decides to bring them back to his spotless reality as an experiment. The Savage is looking forward to explore the new society but he is not accepted there. He still values human emotions, literature, and family ties. His mother dies and he turns into exile where he eventually ends his life.
I found the premise of this book quite interesting. And I can see how ground-breaking it was when it was written in 1932. However, the execution was lacking for me. The main characters are poorly developed and flat which makes it hard to connect with them. The storytelling was simply dull and boring. Very dense, difficult to absorb writing made me want to stop reading it multiple times. I kept going only because this book is considered to be classic. I really wanted to like it but I just couldn’t.
As a social message, as a novel, and as a statement on the way in which mankind should behave, I find Brave New World inferior in almost every way to 1984. The one word of praise I will give to Huxley’s novel is that his dystopia is more unusual and more intriguing than Orwell’s. If only he had done something more with it.