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Snowball's Chance by John Reed
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Snowball's Chance (2002)

by John Reed

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455256,992 (4)3
Showing 5 of 5
The author's interpretation of "Animal Farm" for the 9/11 era is brilliant. While the writing style is more detailed and storylike, it retains the biting criticism and allegory, if to a more deliberate level. This work explores the events, attitudes, and misinformation that led up to one of the most symbolic events in recent history.

Just as Orwell's "Animal Farm" explored the evils of Communism/Stalinism, Reed's "Snowball's Chance" explores the evils of Democracy. As soon as Snowball returns to the Farm, he champions many policies that create great change. The farm moves from the commandment of "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others", to "All animals are born equal - what they become is their own affair". Issues of industrialization, consumerism, litigiousness, debt, citizenship/voting rights/immigration, taxation, nepotism/cronyism, oil dependence, civil rights, fear/stereotyping, police brutality, and religious extremism become prevalent. The allegory itself shifts from the relationship between the USSR and Nazi Germany/Allies to the relationship between the USA and the Native Americans/immigrants/Middle East.

Some of the characters from "Animal Farm" reappear in "Snowball's Chance", but there are many new characters as well. The number of years between the books is not explicitly stated, but it is long enough that most of the original animals from the previous book have died. Ones who remain are Benjamin the donkey, Moses the crow, Minimum the pig (Napoleon's food taster, now the farm's Leader), Brutus the dog, and Snowball. Existing characters remember those who have died, including Boxer the horse, but (as in "Animal Farm") those memories are corrupted by the propaganda of those in power. New characters include beavers, squirrels, porcupines, badgers, and hedgehogs -all from the Woodlands area beyond of the Farm, and the farm animals from Foxwood and Pinchfield - the two adjacent farms in Orwell's book.

The Woodland creatures play a very significant role in the events of the book, led by Diso the beaver. They live a conservative life, dictated by a set of rules called The Beaver Code, and seek to gain entrance to what Moses the Crow calls "The Sugarcandy Lodestar", instead of "The Sugarcandy Mountain" from Orwell's book. The Woodland creatures watch as the Animal Farm adds another windmill to its existing one, and refer to them as "The Twin Mills". Diso explains that the Twin Mills are a symbol of the evils of the Animal Farm. Diso encourages his followers to build explosive devices, and train diligently in using them to accomplish their goals. They are told that, if they perform their duties to glorify The Beaver Code and sacrifice themselves for it, they will reach The Sugarcandy Lodestar and be rewarded with 1600 virgin birch saplings.

As some of the Woodland creatures become disillusioned with The Beaver Code, as Diso is interpreting it, and they leave to join the Animal Farm. Because of the influx of creatures, the animals are segregated in their jobs and living arrangements. The most recent immigrants are given the most menial and physically demanding jobs, and are given the lowest amount of pay. Although their situation is not ideal, the other animals remind them that they are in a much better situation than they were in before. Meanwhile, the pigs and dogs (as well as those who have been voted/appointed into powerful positions) enjoy the spoils of power and wealth, indulging in foods and leisure activities not available to the lower classes of animal.

With the industrialism brought about through the Twin Mills, there is little need for agriculture. The animals reinvent the farm and re-brand it as Animal Fair, offering both human and animal visitors many recreational activities and food stalls on which to spend their money. Animals who misbehave or are otherwise deemed to be criminals are forced to perform as sideshow acts in the Fair. All of this comes to a violent end when a very 9/11-esque plan is carried out by the Woodland Creatures, forever altering the relationship between them and the farm animals.

Written shortly after the events of September 11th, 2001, "Snowball's Chance" offers a perspective that was (and still is, to a large extent) unpopular and subverted by many in the West. However, it is important to remember that history doesn't happen in a vacuum. Fifteen years later, we are still learning this lesson. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
I don't know. I quite enjoyed the book, and its take on the present world catastrophe. I didn't see George Orwell as the target, which is commonly reported. ( )
  Hollos | Sep 2, 2007 |
Brilliantly written. It’s wise, funny, and sad. An animal farm that embraces capitalism. A pig that prefers to read Shakespeare, instead is forced into running the show. A disturbing look at society through the eyes of these animals, and their activities. ( )
  pralada | May 30, 2007 |
I was challenged to read it, basically, because I claim to be a huge orwell fan (which I am, he is the only author that "matters"), and I picked it up fully expecting to hate it, not only because it's an attack on sainted George, but because I think contemporary books rot, for the most part. And then all I could find was a first edition, which cost me nearly fifty bucks. I was fuming. But, alas, I really appreciated it. FYI: I don't think George would have disliked it. He would have loved it, especially as messed up as the world it today. ( )
  Atamania | May 28, 2007 |
I absolutely love this book. It was kind of hard to get, but worth the effort. It's scary how well the author was able to paint a picture of the US post 9/11. It might take effort to get it, because apparently Orwell's estate is suing the author. ( )
  Akasha_evil | Apr 12, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5

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