Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: 'Dune' by Frank Herbert is a challenging but worthwhile read

Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin and Oscar Isaac star in "Dune," which premieres Oct. 22, 2021.
Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin and Oscar Isaac star in "Dune," which premieres Oct. 22, 2021.

It’s hard to miss all the press for the movie “Dune” lately, and if you are a science fiction fan, a fan of any members of it’s star-studded cast — such as Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya — or simply a movie fan in general, you may be excited for this movie’s release Oct. 22.

All the excitement surrounding the movie has also given rise to curiosity about the book the movie is based on, “Dune” by Frank Herbert. This book was released in 1965, and is the first in an extended saga that continues today, with Herbert’s eldest son taking over after the author’s death in 1986. 

I read the book, “Dune,” myself and while it was a little bit of a challenge due to unfamiliar language, I overall enjoyed the themes and how carefully the narrative and environment was put together.

Going into it, most of what I had known about the book was the fact that it was categorized as science fiction and its main setting was a desert planet teeming with giant sand worms. I wasn’t prepared for how layered its themes of family, survival and friendship are.

The story uses a lot of unfamiliar words and phrases, and the book chooses to have the reader learn them through repeated exposure without explanation. This book wants the audience to take their time reading it, because if they rush through it, especially the beginning, they will quickly become confused in the world Herbert has created. 

There are many characters to keep in mind as well. The most prominent protagonist is named Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet in the movie, a boy born into nobility. Numerous other characters come and go throughout the novel, and focus occasionally shifts from character to character, which offers multiple perspectives to flesh out the greater story.  

“Dune” becomes political at parts and a survival story at others. Its science fiction theme is mixed with elements of medieval fantasy. There are warring houses, political drama, death, prophecies and ancient magic. It was a lot to wrap my head around when reading, I must admit.

The book is able to juggle all these concepts by balancing them with an interesting narrative and an intriguing setting. I became invested in not only the characters, but also the world they live in. The cultures and settings have been very carefully crafted and not all questions are answered.

So what would I say to a new fan who is considering reading the book? I would recommend it, but would also recommend that they take their time with it. The book offers much intrigue in its stories, themes and dialogue, but the reader must have the patience to get through an onslaught of unfamiliar phrases and places.

“Dune” releases Oct. 22 in the United States in theaters and on HBO Max.

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