Julia had settled down…

…on her side and was already on the point of falling asleep.

Was she tired? Probably. Was that why? Nope. It was because she made the mistake of reading a book that sounded a m a z i n g in theory – yet was a complete fail in practice. Sandra Newman’s JULIA, based on – you probaly guessed it already – George Orwell’s masterpiece 1984. I must have read it at least 20 times and it never fails to leave me completely devastated. And it’s still so valid today. The only bad thing I can say about it is that it brought us one of the worst reality TV franchises – looking at you, Big Brother. Who’s watching now, huh?

So, anyway, this woman comes along and probably thinks to herself: let’s explore Oceania from a feminist POV! Very en vogue, that sort of retelling of male-focused classics, and generally an interesting and promising concept. If done right. And thus she conferred with the cultural heirs of Orwell and eventually got the rights to rewrite on of my favourite novels EVER from the perspective of Julia, Winston’s love-interest (to simplify). A friend gave it to me saying she found the first pages too tedious to read and asked if maybe I wanted to give it a try? Sure I wanted! I mean, on top of the intriguing idea, what a great title. However, I purposefully lowered my expectations – after all, no matter how good, I don’t think anyone could out-do the uncrowned king of dystopian novels. And yet, I should have buried those expectations at least twenty thousand leagues under the sea. Lo(w) and behold, it was bad. So bad, I felt compelled to write a brtual(ly honest) review on GoodReads.com. Here’s my full review, including spoilers:

I had high hopes for this yet was careful not to expect too much – after all, there was no way it could live up to Orwell‘s masterpiece. The first half is really dreadful to read and gave me nothing. Julia is nothing but a sexdriven cynic who believes she has everything figured out. As soon as the book reaches the Winston-Julia-plot from the original, I felt it got more interesting. Honestly though I can’t say if the writing changed or if it was just my excitement for what I knew was about to come. Probably the latter, because Julia’s experience in Room 101 is unnecessarily gory, her encounter with Diane (?), the Inner Party woman, and her monologue on 2+2=5 felt like something you’d find on Sparknotes. The worst part is the ending. The reason why Orwell‘s 1984 has so much impact today is because it denies you any glimpse of hope. Having Julia join the resistance that overthrows the government and Big Brother felt simply wrong. Too much of a fairy tale ending where the knight in shining armour aka soldiers/rebels saved the day and the nation.

Probably a good read for anyone who can’t stand a dystopian ending. Apart from that, would sadly not recommend. Bonus point for making me want to re-read Orwell now.

So please, do yourself a favour, and don’t even bother to read it. Life is too precious and there are so many better books out there.

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