You will not enjoy this book. It will make you feel guilt, anger, confusion. You’ll think about it for years after you finish it. It’s incredible, but you won’t enjoy it.
A group of teenaged delinquents are part of an experiment to see whether a person can be made to be good through brainwashing and torture. No reasonable person will think: “yes, that’s me”, or “shame, he enjoys killing so why shouldn’t he?” However, you will get to the end and ask: is that humanity? Is that what we are capable of?
The primary issue dealt with by Antony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange is whether it is better to have the choice to be bad, or be forced to be good. The reader is accosted reading despicable acts of violence, followed by a weird and surprising sense of sympathy. Not because the characters are convinced that what they’re doing is good, but because we wait for the characters to feel some kind of remorse or guilt for their actions. When they never do, we’re left dissatisfied, with only the notion: “When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man”. This novel is timeless because it removes the reader from their comfort zone, forcing them to face evil as an undeniable element of humanity.