Book Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Hi guys,

here’s a review for a book whose movie is probably one of the most known ones: A Clockwork Orange. Since I only have seen parts of the movie and therefore wanted to read the book first before watching it, here’s my opinion on it. Enjoy!


Book Information

Title: A Clockwork Orange
Author: Anthony Burgess
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian
Type: eBook

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Published in: 5th December 2013 (first published in 1962)


Alex is a 15-year old teenager living in the near future-dystopian England that loves to hang out with his gang at night. They beat up people on the street or go to houses to either get let in by naive owners or break into their houses to beat up people and sexually abuse them. One night the raid goes awry so Alex ends up getting caught by the police, then is sent to prison since the woman he attacked died due to his abuse. After being in prison for 2 years, Alex hears of a new treatment that might turn him good and sees it as the chance to leave prison early. If only Alex knew what was in for him with this treatment.

The Foreword

So before I got to read the actual plot, a 10 percent foreword awaited me. Forewords are okay if they aren’t spoiling the whole plot. What they did but I read it anyways. At least I got some insight of how Anthony Burgess detested Stanley Kubrick for trying to turn A Clockwork Orange into Kubrick’s own idea and so on. Interesting stuff. With the foreword I got to know that there was a time when there wasn’t a 21st chapter because it seemed “too british” for the American publishers. Or how the book is parted in 3 parts, which actually feels pretty neat. I would have loved the foreword at the end though, so I could have read the book without spoilers.

The Language

This book was the first time in a very long time where I wished I would have bought it in German instead of English. The first 200 pages felt so heavy. Anthony Burgess has created a teen-slang called Nadsat in which he used Russian-influenced English, so people would understand it nonetheless within the context of the book. I looked up some words anyways in the Urban Dictionary so I could read the book faster. And if I’m looking up words, it means that I felt really uncomfortably hard to read the book. It got easier though the longer I was reading it! Yay for improvement.

The Theme

Apart from the language, A Clockwork Orange is a hard book to read when it comes to plot and actions of the main character. The reader follows the adventures of Alex, a 15 year old teenager with loving parents yet no common sense whatsoever. He loves being violent and mean to basically everyone around him. He is disrespectful and never shows regret when it comes to his actions. Alex is beyond every means an awful character. When he gets sent to prison and later on to a treatment called The Ludovico Technique, he get “cured” from his badness and love for violence. You can say he was tortured into thinking so. The Ludovico Technique is an aversion therapy in which a person gets forced to watch horrible and violent actions while having a substance injected that makes him or her feel sick. So after the person got physically sick from watching violence, her or she will get sick whenever thinking of being violent after the treatment.

I read a few times by now that this book is about free will and if a person is born either good or bad. Is it possible to change is good- or badness? Is it even good to choose for someone to behave a certain way, to take away his or her choices? Personally for me, that is one great theme of the book, on the other hand I feel like it’s also a little bit about stereotypes and how you will always stay stuck in one, no matter how much you tried to change. Alex tried to change his ways, but kept getting treated like his old self. Then, without asking, they took away his goodness and put the narrator back into his old self.

Yes, Alex never knew what exactly would await him with the Ludovico Technique, yet he chose to become a better self. But after his so called accident, people took that choice away and never asked him if he was alright with it. After being the pusher, Alex got pushed around by people that saw him like a chess figure in a political game.


Personally I read A Clockwork Orange to get rid of a book from my to-be-read pile and to read one more famous classic. It’s nice to have it read and get to know the language of it. If it had a whole other tone I wouldn’t have read it because the plot is disgusting. The meaning of the whole book is important and very philosophically to start a discussion. Yet it wasn’t my most favorite book to read since I didn’t enjoy it as much as I firstly thought I would.

Therefore A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess gets 3 out of 5 stars for my lack of enjoyment and secondly for me struggling with it (I really tried to like it more!).

xo Annina


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2 thoughts on “Book Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

  1. I would say that the movie is really a gem of an art piece. The use of excellent imagery coupled with pretty out-of-the-place background score tells us about the uniqueness of this movie. Stanley Kubrick has really applied a lot of thought into this.

    The director wants the audience to feel something as bad not because he is showing it as bad but because it really is bad. The background music accompanying the ultra violent scenes is comical, and not dramatic or anything else that is commonly associated with such scenes. This gives the viewer an opportunity to feel the bitterness not because the music hints so but because he himself feels so. Viewer’s emotions should arise irrespective of what the director is trying to show, and this is one of the greatest successes of the movie.

    Another glorifying feature is the central idea of the movie. If a human is striped of the choice to choose from good and evil, he no longer remains a human, he becomes a clockwork. When Alex is brain-washed and “programmed” to choose only good, he wasn’t accepted by the society and this shows the irony in the objectives of the British Government. The word Orange from the title presumably comes from the word “Ourange” that loosely means man. And hence the title is so appropriate to the movie.

    The artificiality in dialogues and sets give the movie a unique feature and enhance the grip on it. This also means that the viewer has to get more involved. This is definitely one of the best technically shot movies, another masterpiece of Kubrick like the Space Oddessey.

    For the uninitiated, set in near future Britain, the movie shows Malcom MacDowell as the head of a group of youngsters involved in sexual violence. Turn of the events leave the protagonist in the hands of the police. Worried by the growing number of prisoners the British Government devises a method of “programming” them so that they always choose the good. Alex is chosen as one of those on which the new system is to be tested. The rest unfolds as a saga of the very human characteristic.

    Lastly, I would like to say that you may be compelled to leave the movie in between, but if you are watching it for art and cinematic experience, I recommend you to sit through.

    Liked by 1 person

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