Brave New World by Aldous Huxley on the 101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers list, and I know I’ve seen it on many other “must-read” lists. I never read it in high school when many people apparently did, so I thought I should give it a go now. But I just cannot.
I’ve listened to three chapters of the audiobook, and I have yet to meet a solid, identifiable character. The dialog is forced and the setting is an unrecognizable scene many hundred years in the future. Huxley has spent three chapters “telling” me about the setting and characters. Thus far, it reminds me very much of Foundation by Isaac Asimov, which I disliked when I read it a few months ago.
None of those things I mentioned would, by itself, make this book bad. I often enjoy books without solid characters (Thomas More’s Utopia, reviewed last month, was a conversation about a country’s social habits, so there was essentially no characterization and I still enjoyed it). I can ignore forced dialog when I’m enjoying a story (much of the dialog in children’s literature isn’t very believable or well done, I’ve noticed). I have enjoyed futuristic novels in the past (such as We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, reviewed here). I have even enjoyed a futuristic novel with a blatant moral/philosophical message (Anthem by Ayn Rand, reviewed here).
But Brave New World has failed every enjoyability test. By excluding a clear plot and clear characters that I can identify with from the beginning, Huxley has failed to engage me in his book. The forced, fake dialog isn’t surrounded by any type of story to keep me interested. I suspect there may be some story once the scene is properly set, but I’ve lost patience waiting for that.
And so, I’m giving up on the audio after an hour of listening (the book is a total of eight or nine hours). I’ve been told that Brave New World is more of a societal study, which does still sound interesting to me. I only wish Huxley could have included some actual characterization or plot to make it interesting. Maybe in the future I’ll skim the physical book; listening to it is tedious and painfully boring.
At this point, I’d rather reread Thomas More. And that’s saying something.
Have you read Brave New World? Did you like it? Why or why not?
Why do you think Brave New World is considered a classic?