Book Review: Blindness

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

by: Jose Saramago

As an epidemic of blindness spreads throughout the country and people have no idea what is causing it. While government officials work to contain it, those who have already been struck blind are interred in a mental hospital with no supervision. The wicked individuals rise to the top and take advantage of everyone else.

This book is a study of what happens when our precious civilization is stripped away and people are forced to resort to their most animalistic state to survive. It's like Lord of the Flies with adults. The writing is beautiful and though you're reading about some intensely disturbing situations, Saramago writes in a way that makes sure you can't look away. He gives his characters no names, only descriptions (i.e. Girl with the Dark Glasses), which gives the story a feeling of anonymity. This could be anyone, in any town.

The most horrific aspect of the story is the fact that one of the main characters can still see. Everyone thinks she's blind, but she lied so she could stay with her husband and take care of him. Because of this, individuals don't disguise their actions around her and she can see everything that is really happening. The book is equal parts profound and disturbing.

**One note on the text. It's written in a way that can be a bit confusing. The dialogue is written in paragraphs, rarely noting who is speaking. It looks a bit like this: "How are you? I'm fine. Has work been busy? Yes, we have a new client." So you need to pay close attention to who is speaking in order to follow the characters trains of thought. If you're an audiobook listener I would highly recommend the audio read by Jonathan Davis. He has slightly different inflections for each of the characters, which makes it easy to follow.


Jenners said...

Great review ... I've been "scared' of this book but want to try it at the same time. I think I'm going to take the plunge. Perhaps audio is the way to go.

Anonymous said...

This book captivated the heck out of me. I couldn't stop reading it! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Heather- That's the perfect way to describe it, it's captivating. It's so dark, it can't really be called "enjoyable" but it's absolutely captivating.

Jenners- I'd go with the audio if you can, but it's hard to turn it off when you get out of the car!

Eva said...

I might have to read this for the RIP challenge this year! Work my way up to the creepiness though. :)

Lightheaded said...

It is captivating indeed, Avid Reader.