Book Review: Dune by Frank Herbert

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for…

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

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How was it?

Dune is one of these books that keeps getting recommended by casual and avid readers alike, but the only reason why it jumped forward on my TBR list is the movie. I’ve been interested in this book for years but it never felt like the right time to pick it up, until that first trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s movie hit. I was mad because I wanted to experience this story in book form first. Usually I don’t care, books and their adaptation(s) are separate entities for me but I didn’t want any visuals for the new movie to influence my interpretation of this world. I wanted to dive in and let Herbert’s words show me this world, and you know what? He f’ing did. Despite loving the glimpses I had in the Dune‘s movie trailer I completely forgot about that a few pages into this book.

The plot is very rich and complex – I’ve read bigger books than this one that feels shallow in comparison -; the world building is amazing, it’s foreign and new with enough familiarity to what we know to never get lost in it. Dune touches on so many subjects that it could have been a mess in the hand of less experienced and/or skilled writer. Herbert also explores some many themes (geopolitics, religion, environmentalism, colonisation, family, etc.) that it makes this world he created for this book feel so real and tangible, because it kind of is. It’s a clever commentary on our society’s past, present, and – if we’re honest with ourselves – futur. The commentary applied in 1965 when this book was first published, and it’s still applies today.
Dune might be presented as a science-fiction, futuristic story set on the desert planet of Arrakis, but the political maneuvering at play here is reminiscent of many real world issues in which places are colonized or swarmed for their prized ressource that everyone wants it regardless of the effect the mining of that ressource has on the native population or the local environment.

What I’m saying might make this book sound like some preachy SJW book but even if it was, and you happen not to be into that, the novel is written in such a way that at different stages of your life you might pull something different from it. Dune works on multiple levels, which is why it’s still as successful as it is, that said while I appreciated many aspects of the book I am not dying to read to read the follow ups but I want to. And also Paul started to annoy at the end.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dune is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

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