From what I read, Orwell originally meant this book to a be a warning against the rise of communism, but at the end of the day, his masterpiece became a cautionary tale against totalitarianism of every kind. Set in a world where 3 super-states are in perpetual war against each other, the Party, led by the symbolic figure of Big Brother, controls the population of Oceania to an unimaginable degree. Comrades are indoctrinated from the earliest age, privacy is virtually non-existent as every home is furnished with a two-way telescreen, allowing the Thought Police to watch in and listen in at any time. History books are constantly re-written to depict the Party as the ultimate benevolent force and to further convince the citizens of Oceania that they are living in the best of worlds, and that their interests are looked after. But of course, some people are not so easily brainwashed into blind obedience to rules of ration, chastity and hatred towards an invisible enemy. An underground rebellion is attempting to resist and expose the Party. It is in this frightening world that Winston meets and falls in love with Julia. But in a society where everything is repressed and where people are terrified into obedience, such a relationship is not only extremely difficult, it also endangers their lives.
Orwell is a beautiful writer, and he weaves a terrifying world where individuality, privacy and free-thinking are mercilessly crushed. I believe this book to be a necessary read (if only because of the staggering influence its had on culture and language), even if it can be a disturbing one, too. It has inspired countless other books ("V for Vendetta", "The Handmaiden's Tale" and dystopian literature as a genre), songs ("Resistance", "Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever", "Testify", "2+2=5", etc.) and many of it's expressions ("Big Brother is watching you") have found their way into our daily language. It was originally published in the late 40's, but its subject-matter of censorship, personal freedom and population control are as relevant today as they were when Orwell first wrote it. This book's relevance, even more than 50 years after it's original publication, may be it's most spine-chilling twist.