Just Finished…Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

One Sentence Summary

In a future world where no one reads and children are no longer born, two readers fight to preserve their humanity, and save all of it.

Favorite Sentence

“And they read, hearing the voices of the living and the dead speaking to them in eloquent silence, in touch with a babble of human talk that must have filled the mind in a manner that said: I am human.” (p.114)

Why I Read It

It was mentioned in this article by Jonathan Lethem, which I learned about from this review, though I can’t remember where I came across the original link to the review. Lethem mentions a ton of recent science fiction I had never heard of, so I went on Amazon to check them out, and Mockingbird appealed to me, particularly as I’m working on building an independent reading program for my school for next year.

Favorite Thing About the Book

This is very much a “novel of ideas,” which I always enjoy when done right. While the blurbs on my copy of the book frequently compare it to Fahrenheit 451, it reminded me a lot more of Brave New World, which was one of my favorite books that I had to read for high school, and also deals with similar questions to the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, Idiocracy. Mockinbird asks what happens to a society that requires less and less meaningful interaction with other humans, while simultaneously relying more and more on technology to do our work and regulate our chemistry. It does an excellent job of showing how reading has the ability to transform how individuals deal with the world and others in it, and the danger for society if this is lost.

Least Favorite Thing About the Book

I don’t have any major complaints. If I had to choose one, it would be that the writing is only really good in a few brief moments like the above sentence.

Recommendation

I wish I could force every student I have to read this, but this type of science fiction is definitely for everyone. It’s definitely worth the 276 pages, but it’s not a “You’ve Got to Read This” book by any means. It’s a good book for a weekend at the beach, or one filled with long car or train trips.

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Posted in Old