REVIEWS: 1984, THE KITE RUNNER, THE COMA

1984 - George Orwell

"People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word."

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.” 1984 is a book concerning a ubiquitously brainwashed population ruled by a Totalitarian government, and that's putting it lightly. All traces of human individuality are abolished and the concept of family eradicated, as all loyalties are directed to Big Brother. The Dystopian rulers are brutal in their law enforcement tactics, often resorting to violence, the threat of room 101, or incineration in “the memory hole.” The story follows Winston Smith, a lower-class government employee, whose mind is tempted to explore the forbidden concept of truth, because living without loving sucks. Unfortunately Winston’s actions against “Big Brother” are propelled by the idea that an anti-government civilization, known as “The Brotherhood,” dwells in the shadows of the corrupt society and are plotting their moment of revolution (see: movie Equilibrium). However, I personally perceive "The Brotherhood" as a state of mind. The thought alone that an opposing force to The Party exists provokes feelings of empowerment and hope. It is with this notion of hope that stirs Winston, and without it, he would not have taken action. The “Brotherhood” is the hope for humanity and The Party's only threat. Though the novel is slow at some points, purely based on its widespread controversy (it appears on many “banned books” lists), and its reputation as one of the most influential novels written about a suppressed society, I would give this book a quick read while you still have the choice. 

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

Although the story is fictional, the underlying social and cultural customs are valid and serve to shed a light on the human lives bound in a terrible misunderstanding. The story contradicts the notion that Afghanistan is infested with terrorists, and instead delicately surprises its readers as the intimate journey of the characters unfold, much like lifting a rock to find a flower. The historical material slips in quietly alongside the characters and complements their lives. Two afghan tribes are explored – the dominant Pushtan and the oppressed Hazara. The book's central focus is on the friendship between two children, one from each tribe. As they grow through their struggles and decisions, they realize that the outcome of their adult lives is shaped by the cruel and shameful decision of one of the boys. The book flirts with the notion that every day is a chance to change, to right the wrongdoings of our past, and to seek forgiveness. 

The Coma - Alex Garland

"Waking was the most reliable part of a dream, as built into dreams as death is to life. You dream, you wake: you live, you die."

The Coma is much like poetry in the sense that it is written for interpretation. The premise is direct: while Carl is commuting home late at night he tries to protect a woman from getting brutally assaulted, gets the guts knocked out of him in the process and wakes up from a coma in the hospital. Or does he? He eventually realizes, as we sometimes do when dreaming, that it is probably time to wake up and make breakfast. This leads to an ultimately dark preposition: what if you can't wake up? The book keeps a simple enough story line, so we can focus on the journey taking place in the mind, behind the scenes, between the lines. It isn’t about revealing some greater truth, the meaning of life, the existence of God, or detailing a massive character breakthrough. All this book wants to do is take you on a 200 page journey into a maze where nothing is what it seems, and the boundaries between dreams and reality are blurred. Once it drags you down into the murky waters of delusion, it’s going to leave you there to figure it all out for yourself.