Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Classic / Romance
Released: November 2005 (first published 1925)
by Penguin Modern Classics
Source: Received from college for study
Rating: ★

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Day and night Jay Gatsby’s mansion on West Egg buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby – young, handsome, fabulously rich – always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, although no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret longing that can never be fulfilled.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald brilliantly captures both the disillusion of post-war America and the moral failure of a society obsessed with wealth and status. But he does more than render the essence of a particular time and place, for in chronicling Gatsby’s tragic pursuit of his dream, Fitzgerald re-creates the universal conflict between illusion and reality.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite some time now, and since I have to read it for college, I bumped it straight to the top of my book reviews list. I’ve heard and read great things about this book so I really hope it is as good as all the top critics say. The cover of the book is really nice, is captures the basic elements of what the book is about. I was really hoping that we didn’t get the little green books to read, since they have really boring cover (no pictures, just text).

If I had a quid for every time Gatsby says “old sport”, I would be considerably wealthy for a person of my age. No matter how much I tried to, I just couldn’t get into this book. The whole thing is incredibly slow and the pace doesn’t quicken at any time. I wasn’t too impressed with the characters either.

Out of all the main characters (Nick, Gatsby, Daisy, Tom and Jordan), I disliked Gatsby and Daisy the most. They’re incredibly shallow and selfish people and that really turned me off. Gatsby is the worse of the two, he’s incredibly conceited and cares only about himself enough to actually tear Daisy and Tom’s marriage apart. He is not “great” at all, like the title of the book says he is. His death didn’t phase me as shocking at all. He got what he deserved for breaking up a marriage for his own selfish reasons and killing a woman in a hit and run.

I wish the book had been about Nick more. He was a much more interesting character and I wanted to know more about him other than what the completely pointless opening three paragraphs say. I thought that his relationship with Jordan was particularly interesting – more so than Daisy and Gatsby’s. More about Nick would’ve impressed me more than Gatsby’s back story being told two or three times. I just wasn’t interested in reading about it.

One of my biggest pet peeves in books (because I’m picky like that) is a single-digit number of chapters that are incredibly long. This book does have two more chapters than Of Mice and Men, but they’re incredibly long and my attention span isn’t long enough to trawl through a 32-page chapter where nothing happens.

This book has the ‘pleasure’ of being rewarded my first 1 star rating. I just couldn’t get into this book, no matter how hard I tried. The length of the chapters really started to grate on my just as much as Gatsby’s constant utterance of “old sport”. I wanted to put this book down and never pick this up again, but I just couldn’t do that, since this book is a part of my AS level English Literature exam. Oh joy.

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