A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Rate: 5/5


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (No Spoilers):

My beautiful friend Stephanie, who is an incredibly talented English teacher, recommended A Brave New World to me years and years ago. For some reason or another this classic continually slid further and further down my reading list until it eventually found its way completely off my list. I’m rather sheepishly going to admit that I’d likely have not picked A Brave New World had my brother not added the title to my library hold list for me a couple of weeks ago. With that being said, I can’t believe it took me so long to have picked up this provocative, thought provoking book. I haven’t been able to stop pondering in what ways I’ve been unconsciously conditioned as a child. What opinions, feelings, or attachments do I have that harken back to some unrealized event in my past. Half way through listening to this book I had the epiphany that I would have to reread this book at some point in the near future to fully absorb everything that was happened and the implications throughout. In my spoiler section, I could go on for pages about the various concepts that stood out, however I’m going to pick and chose the ones that have continually nagged at me since finishing this novel. I’ve read countless novels at this point that are dystopian in nature, with the ones that stand out to me having creating unique literary realms. That being said A Brave New World is in a class of its own due to the level of innovative detail employed to bring to life this highly regulated new world and the quantity of science employed. Of course I’m bias with regard to that last aspect. Moreover, the astounding fact that A Brave New World was originally published in 1932 makes Huxley’s remarkable imagination all that more impressive.  Overall, I can easily understand why this classic book is a popular title to be required reading in literature classes and should be a must read for any science fiction loving reader.


Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Bernard started out as our outcast however after finding John he became a celebrity, ultimately conforming to the society he had so loathed before. I hated seeing this regression, wanting him to snap back to his old self.
  • I couldn’t believe the ending involved John committing suicide. The poor man didn’t fit into the culture he was raised in and didn’t fit into ‘civilization.’ The events leading up to the ending were rather confusing with John whipping Lenina somehow transitioning into a massive orgy with the crowd. I was shocked when the story abruptly ended, having to rewind to make sure I hadn’t missed something and the tale had indeed reached its conclusion.
  • I have to say my favorite part of ABNW would have to be the introduction with the scientists leading the children through the laboratory, explaining the conditioning, learning, and philosophy behind their practices. While some of the concepts were especially cringe worthy, others such as sleep learning and conditioning were interesting to ponder.
  • I enjoyed the character of Helmholtz who seemed like a bridge between the ‘savages’ and the ‘civilization,’ however it was apparent in the reading of Romeo and Juliet that he couldn’t quite break through all of his conditioning either.
  • The concept of α, β, γ, and δ people as preordained, conditioned subsets was another uncomfortable aspect of this novel that is worth further examination. It is hard to imagine our world getting to a point in which we would abuse science in this manner. One thought I’d had while reading this novel was that if we were so advanced that we could manufacture humans of varying intellects, wouldn’t the robotic technologies in this dystopian world also be highly advanced?
  • A reoccurring theme throughout this novel was the presence of the drug Soma. If anything became too difficult for the characters they would hide behind this numbing drug to get through the unfortunate situation.  In what ways do we hide from troubles today?

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26 comments

  1. I hate to admit that I’ve never read this book. I have the best of intentions to read the classics, but keep putting it off. To when, who knows. After reading your review, I’ve added it to goodreads and maybe I’ll just get the ebook from the library and get it read this month. Great review, Sarah.

    Liked by 1 person

      • You should read 1984 if you haven’t already. Written by George Orwell who was actually a former student of Huxleys at Eton. Reading their letter exchanges is fascinating since they are two of the most celebrated dystopian fiction authors who cover almost virtually the entire spectrum of pleasure to suffering equally but in an inverse fashion to each other.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am a huge fan of 1984, however I hadn’t realized there was a connection between the two titles. I will likely be Googling both of these two authors tomorrow and reading all about them. Thanks for the new fact! 🙂

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  2. “O brave new world, That has such people in ‘t!” This is such a good book.

    There’s an old 70s(?) tv adaptation by the BBC(?) on youtube that might be worth a look. Hasn’t aged so well, unlike the book which feels more and more relevant today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In regards to your question about Soma, do you think Social Media and smartphone technology are our Soma? Social media provides a sense of popularity and connection. Smartphones guarantee we never need be bored or uncomfortable, don’t they? (And I’m totally typing this on my smartphone. Ha!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh good questions RJ. I could definitely see it. However there are studies that social media makes people less confident due to constantly comparing themselves comparing their lives to the picture perfect ones that people portray on their profiles, which doesn’t align with soma. I do agree some aspects, with regard to distracting yourself and the bored/uncomfortable feelings do have similarities to the drug.

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      • That’s a good point. I have several friends who said when they were “popular” on social media, they felt more anxious and lonely than they ever had in their entire lives. And yet, social media has been shown to be addictive. A strange paradox of sorts.

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  4. I read and reviewed this book a couple of years ago and gave it a 3/5 rating…too much science for me!!! But the subject matter was definitely thought provoking and a little scary. It amazes me that Huxley was so advanced in his thinking 75 years ago. Just a little bit freaky.

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  5. I’ve read this a couple of times and took a class on dystopian literature. For me 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 are more enjoyable – there were a couple of worldbuilding and concept issues that threw me out of ABNW. However it is definitely worth a read as a dystopian classic, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Many of these books seem ominously familiar nowadays.

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