A friend of mine saw that I was reading A Clockwork Orange and remarked, “Wow, I didn’t know you were so dark…”  Well, I didn’t know that this book was so dark when I picked it up a month ago.  Brutal beatings, intoxication, vandalism, rape, all within the first couple of chapters.  If I were watching the movie, I would have closed my eyes through many of these violent scenes.  But since it is difficult to get through a book with your eyes closed, I pushed through.  And as I read on, I understood that this wasn’t violence for violence’s sake, but it was the set-up to a very difficult question: can true “reform” be forced upon a criminal, and if so, should it be done without any regard to what it actually costs the reformed?  This brutal, remorseless narrator is brainwashed and manipulated into a weak, sniveling, choice-less shell of a man that has very little control over his actions and state of mind.  Is this progress?  At least this now-spineless being isn’t physically or emotionally capable of hurting anyone other than himself, but is it humane to strip a person of their ability to make choices?  Big questions.  A good read.