Book Review: Dune

Looking for a challenge read? Maybe a longer book? Or did your Sci-Fi/Fantasy teacher assign some summer reading? Mine did, and I know that a few of my classmates are grumbling about the book. But, luckily, just as many soon-to-be seniors seemed to enjoy it. I know I did, but that could just be because of my insatiable appetite for Science Fiction. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed Dune, and I sincerely want to share a great book with the younger parts of my generation. The book, published in 1965, definitely missed my age group. But, thanks to a high school teacher, this was remedied in the (sometimes) loveable form of summer reading.

Dune, by Frank Herbert, is not only a complex book, but it is full of characters and places that enrich the plot line and entrance the reader. You will find yourself first on the main character’s home planet of Caladan, a world of greenery, luxury, and abundant water. In many ways, like our own Earth. But the relation stops at that description. The main character, Paul, is the son of the Duke Atreides and heir to a royal and rich family. His father ruled Caladan, with Paul’s mother, the Lady Jessica. But politics don’t escape even sci-fi novels, as 10,000 year feuds and noble intrigues are what drive the Atreides family from their home to rule another planet, called Arrakis.

This planet—previously owned by the Atreides family enemy, House Harkonnen—is the source of a drug named melange—commonly called Spice. This drug, while addictive on the subconscious level, gives long life, powers of premonition, and its trademark blue-on-blue eyes, among other side effects. While this might seem to be fine, the side effects are, like most drugs, deadly if you go without it. The planet Arrakis is full of the stuff. Residing in the food, the water, even the air—all important things for the people that live on Arrakis—the spice infects the population unavoidably. On the planet Arrakis, there are four groups of said infected inhabitants. You have the aristocratic rulers and their household; the laypeople who follow the rules and live in the protection of the aristocracy; the smugglers who live by their own rules, carefully avoiding the government; and lastly, most importantly, the Fremen.

The Fremen are the dwellers of the sand outside of shields, a people uncounted and rarely seen, underestimated and living in the so-called uninhabitable terrain of the deep desert. As their name implies, the Fremen are free from the control of the aristocracy, who believe they own the planet. But only the Fremen have the right to live on this planet, for they know all its secrets and how to live with the desert, instead of simply in it. The Fremen trace their ancestry back to the original colonists of the planet, and their culture is heavily affected by the fierce struggle to survive, and the fierce belief in the religious prophecies inculcated over time by the Bene Gesserit representatives living with the Fremen.

The Bene Gesserit is best described as a cult, creatively and uniquely designed by author Frank Herbert. With the ability to see into the future and the past, the Bene Gesserit women highly influence the Imperial government of the entire universe—a government with three stations, the hieratical seat of power, the noble houses of the Landsraad, and powerful Guild, monopolizing all interstellar travel. While this is theoretically a balance of power, the guild has power tipped in their direction by everyone’s dependency on the Guild’s ability to travel through space safely. But it is not known that this power the guilds hold could be broken by one planet and its main resource. The drivers of the guild spacecraft rely on a powerful drug to see the courses that avoid the stars. You guessed it—the spice gives them this ability. The power of space travel relies in however much spice is produced—and whoever holds that spice.

The power of the Spice is mixed into the plot of Dune, affecting characters and events throughout. How it affects Paul and his family, you’ll have to find out. It is important to know, this isn’t your normal light book, and by reading it you risk your own addiction to the series. You should beware character death, plot twists, and family connections that will blow your mind (yeah, I’m talking about you, Lady Jessica). Traitors, fiends, and sadistic characters travel in packs, so make sure you bring a friend. If you find yourself in need of a good read, look for Dune, and immerse yourself in a new world.

Review by Molly, teen blogger

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