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Book Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Alex's drink of choice is milk spiked with drugs.
Classy!
     This book left me conflicted and disturbed, as all good books should.  It's set in a future world where teenage gangs terrorize the streets while the Government attempts to control and reform them.  The protagonist, who refers to himself as Your Humble Narrator, is a rat bastard named Alex who spends his free time looting and raping with his friends.  (Keep in mind that there are lots of graphic and violent scenes in this book.  Don't read it if this will upset you.)  At the tender of age of 15, he is a proud sadist and his society doesn't know what to do with him.  His story is a meandering answer to several tough questions: Is it better to choose to do bad or to be obliged to do good?  Can the price of goodness ever be too high?
     The best part of this book is probably that it dares to deal with such controversial questions.  The next best part is the slang that Alex and his friends use, because it's really colorful and gives interesting insights into how their minds work.  For example, the word horrorshow means excellent, which makes sense because everything that Alex considers excellent would be horrifying to anyone with a soul.  In addition, I enjoyed Alex as a character.  I hated him, but between his love of classical music, his charisma, and his - shall we say - unconventional understanding of morality, he is too interesting not to enjoy.
     That said, I have complaints.  I disliked the last chapter of Clockwork Orange because it wrapped the story up too neatly.  Up until that final chapter, I had really appreciated that Burgess posed questions but did not try to impose any one answer on his readers.  In addition, there are no interesting female characters in this book.  Ugh, why is this such a common problem?  
     But apart from that, this book was fun and thought-provoking.  It only took me about three days to read, which must be a good sign.  

     - Carly

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