Anthony Burgess - A Clockwork Orange

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A Clockwork Orange

Apr 4, 2012
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Important themes.

Cons:The style of writing.

The Bottom Line: Not for me despite being a popular read.


I almost feel like somethings wrong with me for not liking this book; it seems to be overwhelmingly popular.  And it does have some good points, but I just couldn't get into the book.  Nor did I think it was absolutely brilliant.  It was good, but not to my taste.

Alex is in a gang that roams the streets at night, causing mischief and mayhem.  They strike terror into those who meet up with them and are capable of causing great violence.  But when Alex gets caught his life changes drastically.  And after a few years in prison he is offered the chance to go free again, but only if he submits to a new experiment the government wants to try out.  Not realizing what he'd be giving up, he goes for it, and discovers what its like to have choice taken away from you.

I personally didn't think Alex suffered enough.  Actually I think he gets off pretty easy throughout the book.  So the message involving Alex and free will and such didn't really get through to me.  Although I don't really think I'm for a souped up government for thinking that way.  Alex just isn't a compassionate character, its part of his design.  And since I would never think like the majority of the characters in this book, I just can't connect to any of them.  I can't even muster compassion for the victims because of the way it's written.  Alex's friends are second to him so we don't really get to know them too well, aside from being partners in his mayhem.

The writing is absolutely off the wall.  I was so frustrated within the first few chapters that I almost decided to set it down and leave it alone for awhile.  But then I came across a certain word, "okno" and something clicked in my brain.  And I realized that a lot of the "slang" was actually Russian.  And after I discovered that I found reading it a lot easier.  There's still unknown slang, but at least I was able to translate some of the words to make for easier reading and wasn't hopelessly lost trying to figure out what on earth the characters were saying.  Because not even context helped some of the slang be recognizable.  Even so, I wasn't a big fan of the way this book read because of it.  I think it enforced too much on the reader if you really wanted to drive a lesson home.

And the lessons in this book are unusual.  Themes of good vs. bad vs. free will vs. control are predominant.  And the author makes you question what is best.  But there's also a lot of violence in this book that can be so gruesome and "horrorshow" that the lessons could be lost while the reader is focused on the horrible things that happen.  It's definitely not a book for those who don't like to read about violence, rape, murder, and other various terrible things.  Although most of it is only recognizable if you can get past the slang.

Not a book for me.  I know people love it but apparently it just didn't speak to me.  I'm not sure if I'll watch the movie as a result of not really caring for this book.  It may have some great themes, but I just couldn't get past the writing.

A Clockwork Orange
Copyright 1962
192 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2012


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