I have a penchant for reading banned books, apparently.
Though this one isn’t as pleasant as To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s actually really depressing, but a thought-provoking read.
Animal Farm is actually a fairy tale. No, not the fairy tales of princesses and dragons. It’s specifically a book written with flat characters. Character arcs are few and far in between.
George Orwell’s timeless and timely allegorical novel—a scathing satire on a downtrodden society’s blind march towards totalitarianism.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Of course, things never go as planned, do they? The pigs gradually take control of the farm, making conditions even worse than they were with humans. George Orwell penned this story specifically modeling Stalinist Russia. But, this story’s message can stretch to wherever freedom is attacked. (Taken from back cover and my own words)
The book itself is more of a novella, and can be easily read in a day or two. You might want to munch on the content for a bit longer, however.
Napoleon: Lead pig. He’s power hungry, and won’t stop at anything to get it.
Squealer: Napoleon’s little speaker. He persuasively convinces the animals that they are better now than ever before. He is Napoleon’s right hand man in every way.
Snowball: A brave pig who first led the overturning of the farm. He has grand dreams for the animals, and preaches of warm stables, days of vacation, and plenty of food. Napoleon looks down on Snowball.
Boxer: A strong old horse who’s two mottos are “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” He puts in extra time working, getting up earlier than everyone else. He’s dedicated to Animal Farm.
Muriel: A mare who tries to protect the other animals. She is very motherly, and tries to keep up the other’s spirits even in turmoil.
Benjamin: Oh Benjamin. Cynical, melancholy, old donkey. Might as well be named Eeyore. “He would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have had no tail and no flies.” He is the smartest animal on the farm, and can even read.
What I liked: The story is very strong. If you look at Russia’s history, you can definitely see where this fits in. (Around the Bolshevik Revolution.) The conclusion is very powerful, if not sad.
What I didn’t like: This has some very sad things in it. A lot of the animals die. Napoleon’s dogs tear out some animal’s throats barbarically. The violence serves a purpose, but be warned that it is there. This isn’t a book for younger kids. There are some things that might disturb them. (I first listened to this book when I was ten, and it was rather troubling.)
In the beginning of Animal Farm, we see the animals happy and free. They have several commandments, the greatest of them being “All animals are equal.” Towards the end, the animals are working more than they ever have, and the commandments have changed drastically. It’s a sad warning to everyone, everywhere.
WRITING: 5/5 STARS
CHARACTERS: 3.5/5 STARS
THEMATIC STUFF (1 NONE, 5 HIGH): 4
(Mass-murders, it is implied that Napoleon sleeps around with whoever, the pigs get drunk on whiskey)
LEVEL OF VIOLENCE (1 BEING NONE, 5 BEING HIGH): 4
(Mass-murder, animals being barbarically treated, a few fights between the humans and the animals)
LANGUAGE: (1 BEING NONE, 5 BEING HIGH): 1
Total: Three stars for subject matter, four stars for overall.