Author: Anthony Burgess
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
O my brothers, what an interesting read. A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel about a young teen named Alex set in England. The world is quite different from the one of today with many young people, who refer to their gangs as “droogs,” running amuck in the night hours and committing violent crimes. Alex appears to not have any moral compass and has created for himself a life of “ultra-violence” and an imagined superiority amongst his fellow peers. This novel explores his exploits and the consequences that come with them, should he ever be caught.
There were two standout themes that I found unique to this read. The first is the slang that Burgess created for the young teenage characters which is referred to as Nadsat. According to some light research, he created it from a Russian-influenced English. Now when I first started this book, I was a little discouraged that the heavy use of this ‘made-up’ language was a little much for me but I realized by the time I was into the third chapter that I was reading it just as smoothly as regular old English. And it actually became quite fun. I would even read a few paragraphs to some friends out of the blue just to get their reaction and then continue on. I’ve also gotten into the bad habit of saying viddy instead of saw…but I’ll work on it : )
The second theme that stood out was when Alex was captured by the rozzes (police) and imprisoned. He was able to get the early release by agreeing to a new special treatment. This treatment basically rewired his brain to immediately feel sick and in pain when he either thought, saw, or tried to commit a violent or immoral act. Essentially, it was the government’s way of eliminating crime altogether. But what they created was person who no longer has a choice to act in the manner they choose. The elimination of free-will. That then begs the question: if one cannot choose to act to their own will, are they even human? What is a human without error? The other thought-line I enjoyed out of this was how did this government decide what was right and wrong? What governed that standard and who was to say that was correct?
**END SPOILER ALERT**
Oh – and I can’t forget the irony in Alex’s character for having a hysterical passion for classical music. Most people would never think a person that cherished such a fine art form could also perpetrate such vehement cruelty.
I do want to put a warning for the weak stomachs out there as this novel will delve into violence with full force, even if it is in the Nadsat slang. However, do note that Burgess is not promoting violence in the novel, but using it as a vehicle to pose the thematic questions and shape the characters.
If you are in the mood for a book with creative language that questions the limits of free will, this once is for you.