A Clockwork Orange is set in an alternate England “sometime” in the future. The main character, Alex, is a teenager up to no good. His nights are filled with acts of gang violence and destruction. He is devoid of the moral compass that guides most of us. Eventually his luck with the authorities runs out and the rest of the book deals with the aftermath of his incarceration.
I found the first part of the book particularly taxing. Burgess, much like Orwell in 1984, invents his own slang language that is used throughout. I constantly found myself trying to decipher the word meanings based on the context which I didn’t really find very fun. I did eventually get the hang of it, though. The crimes that Alex and his gang commit are described in a no-nonsense way, without any emotion or feeling. It sometimes took me a while to realise that at certain points they just described killing someone. I haven’t seen the film but I can’t imagine that it would be possible to do a similar thing.
I didn’t really enjoy this that much. Even if we weren’t supposed to sympathise with Alex, I didn’t really take away any meaningful message about youth, violence, the criminal justice system or extreme psychology (did I cover everything?).