Book Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I am finally doing this review! I finished it almost two weeks ago, but with work, the holiday, and then me feeling sick this last weekend, well this post didn’t happen. Anyways, onwards to what I think about Clockwork Orange.

I knew going into this novel that it would primarily be about violence and the future (at least a future after the 60’s). I also have gotten several comments from fellow bloggers about how the novel was definitely not one for them; they read it once and that was enough for a lifetime.

I agree. But I am glad that I read it – it was very thought-provoking.

227463The novel, if you haven’t read it, is split into three parts. It also has its own slang, which made the first part of the book hard to read. Trying to take in what’s happening in the story while figuring out what each slang word means was not fun.

The first part had plenty of violence in addition to explanations of the world. It started slightly slow, if only because of the slang words and trying to figure out this ‘new’ world.

The second part, of course, is where it starts to pick up more. You find the main character, Alex, in prison and pretty much the same attitude as when he first went into prison. He plays smart and pretends to be a better prisoner than some of the others. It quickly turns out that maybe he shouldn’t have been so eager to be a guinea pig as a ways of getting out. He thought he would leave the same way he entered.

In addition to the end of the second part, the third part is where a lot of the thought-provoking material occurs. We see what happens to Alex, the new Alex, as he re-enters the world. This is where I felt sympathetic towards him and angry towards the other members of society.

What the State did to him, left him incapable of violence, but with that, the inability to defend himself. Because to defend yourself, you may have to punch someone, etc. which is considered violence.

Not only that, but the State took Alex’s ability to choose between good and bad; right and wrong, away. The book asks, without the ability to choose, is he really a man at all anymore?

It becomes unbearable for Alex, especially since he can’t enjoy the one thing he loves most: music.

(Possible Spoiler Ahead)

In the end, he reverts back to himself. There are two different endings, which give two drastically different outlooks of the book and its message. I prefer the original last chapter, which is now called the alternate ending chapter, I believe.

There were only one time my stomach turned, in part two, something that I was surprised at. The imagery wasn’t very detailed, but then again, I probably added enough in my own mind to make up for that.

The idea of having the freedom of choice is a powerful one as is the idea of a prisoner continuing to be punished for his past, even though he’s on a better path (by choice or not).

I will definitely not watch the movie.

Happy Reading!

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

    • I thought it would make it hard to read for me as well, but there are plenty of movies and tv shows that portray violence as well. And the ‘slang’, for me, prevented the violence from being too graphic. Even though I could still imagine it haha.

      Liked by 1 person

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