1984 – George Orwell

Winston Smith, a low-ranking worker, begins to doubt ‘the Party’. Hidden in his apartment, away from the glaring ‘telescreen’, he keeps a secret diary of his thoughts and frustration; he questions the power of the ominous ‘Big Brother’ and the manipulation and contortion of public opinion, history and truth. In his subtle rebellion, he finds Julia and together they fight against oppression from mass media control, government surveillance and totalitarianism.

In a world in which President Trump and his administration report falsehoods and lies, scrutinise research-led environmental data and place new research and development on hold, it is unsurprising that the novel’s notion of a terrifying and plausible dystopia speaks to so many. 1984 notably highlights despairing themes of a twisted, totalitarian world and the necessity to resist deceit and mass control. As one of the most influential works of fiction ever written, it is a powerful admonition.

 

 

 

 

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness/Siobhan Dowd

Just after midnight, a monster visits 13-year-old Conor. He isn’t scared, he’s had bigger things to worry about lately, his mother’s treatment being the biggest. He knows monsters are for babies and they aren’t real. But, this monster keeps coming back and he’s here for the truth.

At the heart of this novel are the bewildering parables of the monster – part yew tree, part giant – that only leave Conor with more questions and frustration. Interspersed with Conor’s heart-rending story, these tales evoke the dawning reality of his mother’s illness and living with his grandma. In this realistic and magical piece of work, the monster is a transcendent teacher, who illuminates the nature of loss and complexity of human emotion.

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Illustrations: Jim Kay