Time and Time Again

Culture Editor Andie Madding reviews the sci-fi classic novel Dune ahead of its movie-adaptation theatrical release. Rating: 3.5/5

Time and Time Again

Andie Madding



Revered as one of the most influential science fiction books to ever grace the shelves, Dune has sold more than 12 million copies since its release in 1965, and has served as the inspiration for several renown works such as the Star Wars saga. With the anticipated Oct. 22 release of the movie adaptation, more and more people have begun to read it. However, its recent influx of attention begs the question of whether it deserves the popularity.

Frank Herbert, the author of the book, was far ahead of his time. Going against the grain of sci-fi concepts typical of the time, which show utopia and the beauty of the future, Herbert highlights the deep-rooted issues of society. The book has a breadth of controversial topics such as the future, religion, addiction, gender gentrification, and the hero complex within the main character, Paul Atreides. Herbert is able to touch on these topics sincerely and finds a way to execute his ideas into the story. 

The blueprint and ideas of this story are incredible. Herbert’s skill is incomparable when it comes to his world-building and creating complex and detailed settings. This, however, hindered the plot and storyline that he was trying to achieve. The action of the story took the backseat and many pages became dedicated to in-depth detail of the surrounding rooms or desert landscape. He went so far as to add historical documents chronicling his creative environment. This tended to drag out a lot of the story and soon became very boring. 

The narrative is slow-moving and gets lost in the background of Herbert’s exhaustive setting. The utter lack of action and over-abundance of minute details being described can deter any reader from wanting to read it. The book is not for the ever-shortening attention spans of today’s generation; but for those willing to put the time in, it’s worth the wait.

Paul and Jessica Atreides are by far the best written characters in the book. Both of them are complex and dynamic, undergoing changes in maturity and thoughts throughout the book that helped develop their personality. There is never a time where one begins to fall flat, and it is fascinating to see the growth in each of them. 

Paul begins as a naive and timid character and soon transforms and accepts his position in the world of Dune. He has depth and defies the typical “chosen one” trope by questioning destiny and creating his own path. Jessica begins as a subservient wife and evolves into a matriarchal role for thousands of people. Overall, the people in this book are very well thought-out and have immense thought put into them.

Herbert writes in a point of view that shows every character’s thoughts at any given time, making it difficult to tell who is thinking or speaking at any given moment. Many books have either one character that narrates or has designated chapters to each character. This is not the case with Dune. Similar to his many details, the characters’ ruminations are often arbitrary and don’t help to move the story forward. Many of the character’s thoughts, including Dr. Yueh’s, are a way to pound in the ideas that Herbert wants the reader to know. The same notions of  betrayal are repeated over and over becoming almost juvenile. 

One of the better points of the book is how long it was able to stay relevant and keep readers hooked for years. The original fanbase started in the seventies and has continued until modern times. Many of the characters, including Paul, have thoughts and feelings that are relatable for the reader even though he exists in a different world and time. The book helps readers to realize the power struggle that exists in our world today, and possibly in our future such as  the ideas of corruption and using strength to control others. This book invites discussion and inspires change.

Many of the problems within the text will hopefully be eliminated in the upcoming movie, which will hopefully be more concise and digestible for viewers while doing justice to the amazing world Herbert created. There have been multiple attempts at creating this movie in the past and all have failed, so I hope this time it won’t fall short of Herbert’s standards.

The storyline is amazing and the world Herbert created is creative and innovative, but the execution isn’t there. Herbert has great ideas but is not a great storyteller. Critics seem optimistic about the upcoming movie, but the book is not worth recommending.