Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

An oldie, but a goodie. (Also, sorry about last week. procrastinator and all that stuff).

So.  This Perfect Day.

It’s one of my all-time favorite dystopian novels, because it sets itself apart from them in some very important ways. Rather than looking at a snapshot of life taken over the period of a couple of years (like 1984 or We), this is a history of the main character, Chip, from his very early years up until well into adulthood.

In this world, there are four names for boys and four names for girls. Unicomp controls their destinies and the bracelets they were help to give them the drugs necessary to keep them healthy and safe. “Fight” and “hate” are the dirty words, while fuck is perfectly acceptable even in children. The main character, Chip (so-named by his grandfather, after the expression “chip off the old block”) is encouraged by that same grandfather to start thinking about choices, about wanting things, even though those are considered extremely aberrant thoughts. Eventually, as in pretty much all dystopias, he runs into a group of rebels. As in most, he ends up getting caught and “treated”. But unlike most, he escapes.  Unlike most, it has a happy ending which I won’t spoil in case any of you lurky readers wants to read it.

There aren’t that many characters mentioned with any real depth (probably no more than half a dozen), but I don’t think that’s uncommon in novels of this type. Only Chip and one or two others are really fleshed out, but given the depth of this world, it’s easy to not care so much about that.  Given the massive advances of technology that we have around us today, it’s difficult to see how this world could ever be a possibility, but for all that, it still feels very real.

The plot moves along quickly, encapsulating different segments of Chip’s life, but not so quickly that it’s difficult to keep up with it. It’s a fairly simple plot, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. MC is an outsider. MC finds others who are outsiders. MC gets caught. MC escapes. Filling in the blanks with the world is what makes plots like that shine, in my opinion.

Unlike books like 1984 and a Clockwork Orange, this one doesn’t seem to be as popular today. When I just looked it up on Amazon, the most recently printed edition was in 1996. I don’t know why; I’ve read the book many times and I think it’s a real classic of the genre. I highly recommend it to anyone who reads or writes dystopian fiction.




Filed under book reviews

2 responses to “Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

  1. Shannon

    My daughter is doing a comparison paper on this book. Do you offer help with papers?

  2. rl

    Possible spoiler alert please don’t read unless you have read the book.

    I think I have been searching for this book for close to twenty years, but gave up a few years back after several internet and book store searches failed. If you could tell me if the final scene is the character urinating in the kitchen sink I would know for sure. If it’s not I’m sorry I know it sounds weird but as a young teenager that suck in my head along with unicomp. Thank you in advance for any response.

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