Review of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

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Where do I even begin with this book? You know when people say that a book took them on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Well, for me this book is one of those…

To sum up:

What was particularly good?: The writing. I have so often heard in the past (about A Clockwork Orange) the difficulties of understanding the narrative voice, the dialogue and consequently the story. For me I thought it was spectacular. The challenge of grasping the youth “lingo” in the beginning is what helped to keep me interested. Those types of books in my opinion are rare gems. There’s enough of the lingo to make you feel like you’re part of something, part of the story, you know what the narrator knows whilst other characters don’t. At the same time it’s not tedious and over whelming, you can generally get the gist of it after a while and isn’t it just amazing when authors can use what is deemed non-standard English in such a profound manner.

What I didn’t enjoy?: The realism or more so the lack of it, depending on which way you were to look at it. This falls down to the way the story plays out especially in the third part. Without giving too much away, the  string of events that took part seemed so haphazard. Actually, to say it was haphazard is harsh because they took place with sensible links but one could say it’s all too coincidental that one after another these events took place, and therefore lacking a sort of realistic element. There’s “Karma” but then… Really? Then again, it is a work of fiction, so you can altogether discard my opinion as just that, an opinion.

I love roller coasters. So, to say that this book was like one means that I loved it right? Wrong. In fact I don’t quite know how I feel about this book because there are so many different emotions Burgess clearly wants you to feel.

Generally speaking roller coasters only ever make me feel very simply joy on many different levels however, if it were my first time on one I can imagine that it would reflect my impressions of A Clockwork Orange and would look a little something like this:

Part I in its entirety is the exhilarating climb up the first peak at the beginning of the coaster. The cars ride slowly up, as does your feeling for the narrator, they are mixed, you are excited and at the same time a bit cautious, maybe even scared. Either way, you know what’s coming at the top. There’s something uneasy in the pit of your stomach and then when you fall you feel the full weight of what you now have to sit through for the rest of the ride… What you have to read for the rest of the book. That uneasiness is only exemplified and there to remain. In this part of the book, you can’t help but feel slightly dull by the shock at how Burgess manages to write about such sensitive topics through a narrative voice of young teenage boy and pull it off with such an ‘innocent’ tone, bearing in mind there’s absolutely nothing innocent about it.

Part II is then the middle of the ride, something that is predictable, enjoyable and easy to sit through.  It’s the calm before the climax when you can see the line of vertical loops ready to make you feel slightly ill. Again you’re not sure now whether you should be glad or not. Is it weird to feel glad or should you be feeling nauseous? But you don’t have time to think of this because, the best part are those vertical loops which are already here and by the way constitute most of…

Part III. This part in quick successions one after another, makes you feel somewhat sorry for the narrator, all the whilst feeling guilty for feeling pity and then horrified at what takes place. It is a torturous cycle until you can’t help but feel like you’re just glad it’s over when it is. And all stories do come to an end as all rides do.

The ending is such an abrupt change that naturally I was left contemplating whether I enjoyed it or not and unfortunately I can’t say that I’ve come to a conclusion. Only, that the mere fact of it’s ability to have me being so twisted in my feelings towards it deserves songs of praise.

It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil.

My rating: 4.5/5

 

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