Set far in the future, the “World Controllers” have used methods of genetic engineering, brain washing, sex and drugs to create a population of people who are happy and content with their lot in life. Except for Bernard Marx. He seems to rebel against his genetic engineering and brainwashing, and want something more from life. After a trip to the Savage Reservation where the old way of life continues, it just fuels his desire for something more. Will the World Controllers shun him from society?
It’s hard to believe this book was first published in 1932. It’s so well written and the ideas in it about genetic engineering, the machinery, it’s all still relatable today. The story is an interesting concept, that humans might get to a point where, in order for there to be harmony in the world we need to regulate what people do, how they interact and how they think, and even convince them that they’re happy about it. We’d be oppressing ourselves but at least there would be no war. But then there’d probably also be no progression and we’d just keep using the Earth’s resources until it died and then we’d die out and that’s just depressing. Anyway, it made me think about what the world might actually be like!
Asides from being thought provoking I didn’t really find that the story flowed well for me, in that I was never really sure who it was about. Was it about Lenina, or Bernard, or was it about the Savage? Who? There were parts that I really didn’t feel needed to be there, like some of the never ending drivel about the Savage and his childhood, I don’t feel it added enough to the story. I did find it really interesting though just how Huxley portrayed the Savage’s feelings for Lenina and the rather severe misunderstandings they had about feelings and sex. Though in part it makes sense that he wouldn’t really understand why Lenina was trying to have sex with him, the Savage would have some background on what “civilisation” is like because his mother came from there, so I feel it was a rather violent reaction to have…if you’ve read the book you’ll know what I’m talking about.
I found the discussions at the end of the book, in the last chapter interesting but I don’t feel they provided an adequate ending for the book. I had expected reading a book like that, that either drastic change happens in society or someone (I’d hoped Bernard) would get quietly assassinated to avoid change. But it ends up hunky dory and Bernard gets sent to a remote island or something of other people like him go and work on what they please to, you know, better the world. Putting that aside I did enjoy this book, and for it’s time I think this would have been an eery prediction of the future.