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Animal Farm

Amazon Rating: 4.5/5

A classic book in many secondary and high schools, Animal Farm tells the story of a group of animals who overthrow their farmer and take control of the farm itself. It was written by George Orwell and is considered a classic by many people. Unfortunately, I cannot count myself as one of them.

Disclaimer: All the following is just my opinion of this book. If satirical prose about communism is your thing, this book will rock your socks off.

I have a confession to make: I managed to get all the way through GCSE English without touching Animal Farm. Not sure how or why: it was always on my To Read list, but other books always seemed more interesting. So when it came time for mum and I to divvy up the 100 books list, I gladly picked Animal Farm, especially since it is quite a small volume, and I have to say I was quite disappointed.

As previously mentioned, the premise of the book is that the animals of Manor Farm are sick of being mistreated by the farmer, Jones, and set out a series of decrees with which they intend to bring about a revolution.This revolution happens relatively quickly, and the rest of the book follows the establishment of a certain kind of order in the newly renamed Animal Farm. While the animals start with the best of intentions, the more educated pigs quickly take charge and abuse their positions of authority, It is important to note that the book was intended to be a criticism of Stalinist Russia and in this it does its job very well, and is considered by many the be THE allegory for Stalinist Russia and the issues that come from an uneducated populace with an educated elite. However, to me the book felt heavy handed. At the time of writing it was likely a masterful way to bring attention to the issues of communism, however reading it with a modern perspective makes it feels less like an allegory and more like a case study set in a fictional land. The parallels are obvious throughout, and that does not make them or the reader feel clever, but instead almost feel patronising: the pigs calling their leader Comrade, for example.

On the other hand, the book does evoke some emotion at key points (no spoilers here!) but for me most of those points were disguised with a heavy feeling of irritation at the whole affair. I would argue that for it is a great book for helping people understand how a failed revolution can happen, and what happens to make people sit idly by when atrocities are committed, however I would not call it an entertaining read. Since it was not written to be, I guess it works!