Summary: In this dystopian society, the greatest crime a person can commit is "thoughtcrime"-- thinking anything that goes against the dogma of the ruling Party. Winston tries to secretly rebel against Big Brother, but quickly learns autonomy is impossible.
Musings: This is a new choice for summer reading, although I think it's a rather heavy book in comparison to some of the other options. I first read it a few years back (I loved Animal Farm in high school, but never had this assigned in school) and looked forward to reading it again.
On of the most obvious observations is how eerily correct many of Orwell's predictions are. Although "thoughtcrime" is not yet punishable, there are certainly many ways in which our society encourages a group mentality over independent thought and blind patriotism over common sense. When betraying the Party, Winston seeks solace in believing that although the Party can capture him, torture him, and force him to betray everything he believes in, they cannot actually destroy the essential part of "him." And despite our focus today on being part of a group, there's also an intense belief that an individuals' beliefs are inviolable. Of course, this is where Big Brother's greatest strength lies. He not only makes you say you believe the Party line, he drives you to the point where you actually do give up anything you once stood for.
There's no hope nor optimism in Orwell's world, and that's not a comfortable idea to have.