Yes, Fahrenheit 451 is a cornerstone of dystopian literature, and an effective argument against censorship... but couldn’t it be a good book, too?
The story takes place in a not-too-distantly futuristic society where entire rooms are converted into television screens, people are even more passively ambivalent to issues than they are today, and, oh yeah, the job of the “firemen” is now to start the fires, rather than stop them. Books are illegal, you see—all books—so if you’re suspected of having any of them stashed away… well, you’re going to get a visit from the firemen.
Our protagonist, Montag, is one such fireman who develops an affinity for the books he burns, and the story basically follows his struggles to make a difference in this world where no one really cares anymore.
Well, this book was certainly a disappointment. I don't know, maybe my expectations were too high going into it? But there are some pretty serious flaws with this “cornerstone of dystopian literature”:
(WARNING: BELOW THIS LINE LIE SPOILERS AND ANGER-CAPS.)
This book is sharply different from any I would normally read, but I picked it up because a writing teacher claimed that it was her favorite, and that the novel I was working on reminded her of it—she wouldn't tell me how or why, only that I needed to read it for myself. So now I have, and I do see the resemblance, though I'll not go into it overmuch here.
Revolutionary Road is a very honest look at married life in the suburbs in 1950s America—certainly the best of that type I've ever read, though that would say a lot more if I'd ever read another book on the topic. The setting was, unsurprisingly, similar to that of Lolita, and the characterizations reminded me of those in Catcher in the Rye—except, where Holden Caulfield is a whiny, narcissistic phony of a slacker student, Frank Wheeler is a self-conscious, narcissistic phony of a slacker office worker. Not to mention the fifteen-year age difference. But that is neither here nor there.