Sunday, August 11, 2013

Books read in 2013: No. 39 -- Island

by Aldous Huxley

Started: August 3
Finished: August 11

Notes: This novel is apparently a sort-of-but-not-quite thematic sequel to Huxley's most famous work, Brave New World. The plot concerns an island that is a utopia. Unfortunately for those on the island, the rest of the world has gone to hell, and those in the rest of the world have decided they want the island for themselves. I've been drawn to this one not only because of its themes, the fact it's written by Huxley, and the fact it's a sort-of follow up novel to Brave New World, but also because Huxley considered it the most important of his works and because it was yet another influence on the television program "Lost," which I mostly enjoyed.

Mini review: I can see why Huxley thought this the most important of his works, but I do feel it has its feelings. The writing style is easy enough, as Huxley generally is, but I found the structure of the novel somewhat disappointing. Admittedly, it's a utopian novel, but still, most of the novel is just people sitting around talking, explaining the utopian island of Pala to a newcomer. I felt the idea for this novel might have worked better as non-fiction, with Huxley providing his views and arguments for a utopian society. As is, not a lot happens concerning a plot until the very last few pages of the book, and then the events are quite tragic. That tragic ending might be enough to discourage some, but it felt appropriate to me, the darkness coming upon this utopian land. Part of the point, in my opinion, was the ability to cope with suffering and tragedy. I'd like to add, this novel delved too far into Eastern mysticism for my liking; I have nothing against Eastern mysticism itself, but it's just not my thing, so to speak. After all my grousing, one might think I didn't like this book; while I can't claim it as a favorite, I did find it quite interesting and could recommend it to those I think are interested in the subject matter.

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