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Terrible Reviews of Great Books: Animal Farm by George Orwell

animal farm

We are going to take a brief break from our Man Booker shadow panel to bring our regular feature: Terrible Reviews of Great Books. We’ll be back to our regular posting schedule after the shortlist is announced in mid-september.

There is no such thing as a universally loved book. Each month, we’ll feature a book from Time’s list of the best 100 English language novels of all time. From the nasty to the snarky to the downright absurd, we’ll highlight some of the strange reasons why some people hate these great reads. This month we’ll be taking a look at reviews for Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Animal Farm was published in 1945 by George Orwell and is a satirical tale criticizing Stalin. It is perhaps the most famous allegorical novel and most of us read it in school (where I recall liking it). Animal Farm is on the Time 100 list, The Modern Library List of Best 20th-Centuray Novels, the 1001 List of Books to Read Before you Die, and it has won numerous other accolades.

The book has 3,367 customer reviews on Amazon. The average rating was 4.5 stars and only 3% were 1 star reviews. Most of the 1-star reviews were people complaining about a particular edition and it was quite challenging to actually find people who hated the the book. But we did find some. Here’s a sampling (my comments in blue):

NOTE: I did not edit for grammar or spelling. All reviews were copied exactly as posted on Amazon. You can read all 1-star reviews here.

  • THIS BOOK SUCKED! WORST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ! It always made me go to sleep!!!!! DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS HORRIBLE BOOK! I am not fond of reading books but this book made me hate books even more.
  • Animal Farm is the weirdest book I’ve ever read. In it (in a parody of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution) animals in a UK farm overthrow their master, a Mr. Jones. Now, I fully understand the message the author is conveying, and (keep in mind I had to read it because for Grade 10 English, otherwise I’d rather be reading the latest Tom Clancy or Dale Brown thriller) while some parts were, say, tolerable, the book contained absurdities on EVERY page, such as: animals that can read, write, paint, sew, operate firearms, sing, teach, trade, and form Communist dictatorships. Well, the only way I got myself throgh this extremely (thank God) short novel was to lock myself into a room, read it, and get it over with. Somehow I don’t believe you when you say you “fully understand the message the author is conveying.”
  •  I don’t think it sets a good example. It deters people from standing up for their rights, making it seem like revolution always ends in failure. Well, the Bolshevik Revolution certainly ended well, right?
  • Listen guys… if you don’t know a thing about russian revolution. if you’ve never beeen close to history class, if you’ve never heard a thing about communism, and you want to read this book for your english class… HALT. You wont understand a sinle theme, a single symbol, a single point…WHY NOT READ SOMETHING REASONABLE THEN??? I agree. What’s the point of reading about something new to you (like a spelling book)? I only read books about things I already know about.
  • Why anybody would ever need Cliffs notes to figure out what the book is about is beyond me. If you read the first 20 pages, you already know how the book is going to end (unless you “have never beeen close to a history class”). What, you mean the pigs gave themselves even MORE power? Shocking! I never saw that one coming! Save your energy for a book worth reading.
  • If i wished to simply apply idiotic and stupid talking pigs, dogs and horses to the Nazis, France and the US in World War II, my ‘masterpiece’ would be equally as good as this ‘symbolic work of art’. I find it tragic that people believe that something so simple and dumbfounded is ‘symbolism’, and that something so unbearably torturously difficult to read can be considered ‘great’ only because it integrates lowly ‘symbolism’. I mean what I say when I tell you that abssolutely anyone could write this disgusting disgrace to literature. There is a persistent misspelling theme to these critiques.
  • Orwell didn’t make this novel interesting and it seems like a first grader could read this book and like it because everyone at that age thinks that animals fighting is fun.
  • This book was such a bummer. I highly suggest AGAINST reading this book. Read something happier like, oh I don’t know, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s amd excellent read, and with the Holidays coming up, everyone wants to feel happy. Good thing no beloved characters die in Harry Potter novels…
  • Pathetic liberal screed justified only insofar as it’s meant for children. We sopped this one up and took it as the truth. Oh, how sad.
  • This book is a joke; if you want to learn about communism then learn about communism from actual sources, not a book about Stalinist pigs and their dog cronies enslaving farm animals. It’s basically like “babe” gone creepily awry.

We want to hear from you? Did you read this book? What did you think?

Coming up next month: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Want to read more? You can check out our past Terrible Reviews of Great Books:

The Great Gatsby
The Catcher in the Rye
The Lord of the Rings
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lord of the Flies





19 Comments Post a comment
  1. John beckvold #

    The commentary in blue was hilarious. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 30, 2016
  2. Tracy S #

    Oh, those crazzy middle/high schoolers and their hatred of grate litrature..and spelling.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 30, 2016
    • Anita Pomerantz #

      Lol . . .love your comment Tracy. And Jen’s commentary on these reviews . . .

      Liked by 1 person

      August 30, 2016
      • Tracy S #

        Jen does snarky so well! This topic always makes me smile!

        Liked by 1 person

        August 31, 2016
      • 😁


        August 31, 2016
  3. those comments make me despair for our future generations

    Liked by 1 person

    August 31, 2016
  4. Choking on my cornflakes this morning! LOL!


    September 1, 2016
  5. Diane Zwang #

    This book is assigned for 8th grade English for my son. I will have to see what he thinks but getting my 13 year old to discuss books with me lately is torturous at best.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 30, 2016
  6. John #

    The link took me to Great Gatsby


    January 13, 2018
    • Thanks! I’ll look into it and will fix it


      January 16, 2018
  7. Thanks for your informative post.I have read “Animal Farm ” for five to six times. here’s one of my interpretation on it, focusing on education equity.


    June 27, 2020
  8. Ian #

    the last guy had a point


    June 4, 2021
  9. Claire Stephens #

    These respondents should have had to suffer Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice was a much worse fate.


    April 2, 2022
  10. I really enjoyed reading this book! This is a cute and fun book to read. Thanks for sharing a interesting article


    October 6, 2022

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