43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
In short: wow,
This review is from: A Clockwork Orange (Essential Penguin) (Paperback)It's been quite a while since a book has impressed me so much. I didn't want to read it at first - it is, alongside Kubrick's film, infamous for its depiction of violence and brutality. Not really my sort of thing. But I picked it up idly one day and, once I'd started reading, found I couldn't stop.
The novel is set in a strange, dystopian future and focusses on the character of Alex, our 15 year old anti-hero, who spends his free time indulging in ultra-violence, theft, rape and classical music. What's amazing is how Burgess gradually makes the reader become so sympathetic to his 'hero'. Alex is bright, witty, defiant; openly confiding his thoughts and feelings to his audience - his "brothers". When the state locks him up and starts altering him with the morally dodgy "Ludovico Technique" one can't help but side with him against his 'doctors'.
Part of the book's genius is the fact it's so beautifully written and laid out. Burgess's surreal use of language is incredibly ingenious. He creates the wonderful 'nadsat' slang spoken by Alex and his friends (or 'droogs') through a combination of Russian and different styles of English. As a student of Russian, part of the fun was deciphering the words and sentences and every now and then exclaiming 'aha!' as meaning suddenly slotted into place.
Ultimately, this thought-provoking novel left me with lots to muse about. Questions on morality, society and, most importantly, an individual's free choice are brought up and it's left to the reader to ultimately decide what s/he thinks. The book jacket described this novel as 'one that every generation should read'. I really couldn't agree more.