Okay, so yes I just read 1984 which is ridiculous considering:
(a) I love Orwell's essays
(b) I've read (and seen the musical version of) Animal Farm
(c) I was a big scifi nerd in high school
But... well.... I have no reason, really, other than an ingrained anti-canonical prejudice that I have (oh, you mean I'm supposed to read this? FUUUUUUCK YOUUUUU) that at times stands in the way from my enjoying great literature and movies.
So what's my opinion on 1984? Weirdly mixed. Look, it's an odd experience to read something that has been so culturally influencial after it's influence has already taken grip. For the first 90 (nearly plotless) pages of the book, not a page goes by without some important cultural thing going by... Memory Hole... Ministry of Truth... Freedom is Slavery... Doublethink... Thoughtcrime... Newspeak etc... It's ironic, considering that Orwell's Politics and the English Language is so thoroughly obsessed with dead phrases that his book would give birth to an eventual lexicon of what he would've defined as dead language. But that isn't his fault. His book is filled to the brim with important ideas and phrases that have become cliches because they have lasting power and real descriptive power.
Orwell writes with an essayist's clarity, which is, frankly, not always good from a novelist's perspective. He commits the cardinal sin of saying instead of showing for the first 100 pages of the book, and honestly my own taste in sci-fi and fantasy is against super-thorough world-creation* and towards more character and narrative driven work.
Once the action of the book gets going, however, Orwell shows himself quite a capable novelist, and the descriptive language and inner monologues of Winston Smith are quite beautiful and exciting. By the end, the book is a page turner, even if Orwell makes the unfortunate decision to devote nearly 40 pages to reprinting a book describing INGSOC in as dry langauge as possible roughly 60% of the way through. (And the appendix at the end on NewSpeak is totally unneccessary world-creation stuff that's important for the writer to do but not important for the reader to read).
In 1984, the entire point of the novel is the world creation, and for roughly 50% of the book, Orwell doesn't seem to really care about Winston Smith or what happens to him. Which is all well and good, and I think I would've been more willing to roll with it (as that world has a lot to teach our own) if I didn't-- thanks to the book's cannonical placement and cultural influence-- know all that stuff already. In other words, I bet were I in high school (or 1950) the book would've been brilliant and mindblowing, but reading it in the present day there are certain things having to do with the political nature of the book that get in the way of its ability to tell a good story, but when it focuses instead of storytelling, the book is fucking awesome, and in its fucking awesomeness it contains all the stuff that Orwell tries to accomplish with the dryer world-creation writing. And the third part of it (Which I read in one sitting) is a harrowing depiction of brainwashing and the motives of the world he's created.
So... Yes, I liked it. I think it's an important book and its place in the cannon is well deserved. I will almost certainly reread it at some point, given that it isn't banned once we all live in Oceana. I just wish I had come across it earlier in life.
* this is, if memory serves, a major debate amongst sci-fi/fantasy readers. So, for example, Orson Scott Card's work doesn't spend a lot of time giving you background on the created world but instead plunks you down in it while Larry Niven gives you detailed explanations of the physics of the worlds he's created. It's the same difference that crops up between, say, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (which has next to no time spent on world creation even as it takes places in multiple worlds) and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is roughly 25% world creation. My prejudice against world creation is one of the reasons why I have never read Lord of the Rings