Fahrenheit 451

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Fahrenheit 451 Book Poster Image
Classic, still-powerful story of futuristic censorship.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 29 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most famous examples of American dystopian science fiction. It is frequently taught in high school and college literature courses.

Positive Messages

Fahrenheit 451 is an impassioned cry of warning about censorship and the forces of conformity. Bradbury depicts a future America where the citizenry is completely disconnected from reality. He suggests that only through reading and remembering can humankind hope to survive and flourish.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Guy Montag begins the novel as a true believer, finding purpose in life by being a fireman and burning every book he can find. After his wife's suicide attempt and the death of a bright young neighbor, however, he begins to question what he's been told about reading. By the end of the book, he has been transformed, and his continued survival offers hope for the future of humankind.

Violence

Montag's personal transformation starts in earnest after he witnesses the self-immolation of a book lover. Another character attempts suicide with pills. Eventually, Montag deliberately burns one of his colleagues to death. He is then pursued by the relentless, robotic Mechanical Hound.

Sex
Language

There are a few instances of swearing -- "hell," "damn," "God damn."

Consumerism

The Fahrenheit 451 society undergoes mass censorship, which is made possible by the idea that consumerism has already eliminated individuality and history in this dystopian world. The main object that was once valued in this novel, of course, is books.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs are a telling tool in Fahrenheit 451 that reveal the characters' dependencies upon artificial and temporary objects. For example, a character tries to commit suicide by overdosing on tranquilizers. There are instances of cigarette smoking, misuse of painkillers, and the consumption of alcohol, often to numb their concerns.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fahrenheit 451 is a classic example of dystopian fiction, written by one of the most acclaimed authors of American science fiction and fantasy. It depicts a near-future America where books are prohibited and the populace is placated with cheap, shallow entertainment. Ironically, the novel's inclusion in schools and libraries is frequently opposed by various special-interest groups. There is some violence -- the main character deliberately burns one of his colleagues to death, one woman sets herself on fire and burns to death, another attempts suicide with pills, a mechanical hound goes after one man and kills another.  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGood2learn January 3, 2014

Fahrenheit 451 Provokes Deeper Thinking

Fahrenheit 451 is a thought-provoking satire on the dangers of not thinking for oneself, and it gets one considering about the society that could result if we d... Continue reading
Parent of a 17 year old Written byBrandon308 March 22, 2018

Fahrenheit 451 review

People are discouraging this book by saying that it is not good or in appropriate for their child but in all honesty this book could be like the future if kids... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byscot451 March 13, 2013

The most amazing book I've ever read.

This was amazing, the best book I've ever read. I went into this book assuming that it would drag, or that I'd be incredibly bored. I was completely w... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 30, 2012

Great book! Perfect for clubs...

I love this book. I would discuss it with a family member while reading it if you are under 11 or 12. A great book for book clubs or discussion groups.

What's the story?

Sometime in the near future, Guy Montag works as a fireman -- starting fires, rather than putting them out, burning the last few books in a society that views reading as dangerous. After his wife half-heartedly attempts suicide and an inquisitive young neighbor is killed, Montag begins to question his life's work. He keeps a stash of volumes away from the flames, and before he quite knows what is happening, he's taking huge risks to save what he once destroyed.

Is it any good?

FAHRENHEIT 451 is a classic science fiction novel and a powerful commentary on humankind's urge to suppress what it doesn't understand. The shadow of the Cold War looms over the plot, which may confuse some younger readers, but the truths Ray Bradbury unearths are timeless. The novel won the National Book Award and has been adapted for film, radio, stage, and graphic novel, and it's likely to be read widely for a long time to come.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why people feel the need to censor -- or even burn -- books. Are there recent examples of this behavior in the United States or elsewhere?

  • Ray Bradbury has said that the novel is less about censorship and more about the effects of television on our society. What aspects of Fahrenheit 451 support this interpretation?

  • Did the threat of war mean something different to Bradbury's audience when the novel was first published in 1953?

  • Why do you think attempts are made to ban Fahrenheit 451 from schools and libraries?

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