This isn't like my normal book reviews. Rather than diving into the nuances of the book, I'd rather talk about my experience teaching it.
I think I'll always be grateful to this book.
A lot of teachers end up using this book in high school. I know people who were first introduced to it in 9th, 10th or even 11th grade. (Personally, I first entered "Animal Farm in 9th grade.) But, I think, in order to fully utilize this novel's importance and severity, it's best to introduce it in middle school. This is a book that grabs kids, it opens their eyes and it makes them curious about the world and, more importantly, question what they've been taught.
I taught this to my advanced 7th grade and this was the book that really enchanted them and got them into the written word. Introducing novels has been a breeze since. Orwell has this fantastic way of presenting something terrible and making it even more dreadful than before. Unlike other classics, where the reader might feel a bit of a disconnect to the characters due to all of the other allegories, symbolism and motifs in the novel, it was still easy to connect to the plight of all the animals and to feel their betrayal as my own as the pigs began to take over.
And recently I taught it to my 8th graders this year. This is a group of self-proclaimed "book haters," and yet by the time the book was over, they were hooked. One of my students even cried after reading Boxer's plight. I'm almost worried that I'll never be able to pick a book that grabs their interest like this one did for the rest of the year.
A great anecdote I can share from teaching this novel came from when Mollie mysteriously disappears from the farm. When we got to that scene, one of my students who never loved reading to begin with finally began to find himself consumed in Orwell's totalitarian world.
Me: Well, what do you think happened to Mollie?
Students: She got sold! She ran away! She's hiding!
Me: Maybe, maybe.
Student: *jokingly* Maybe they killed her.
Me: *stares at student for a second, then shrug*
Student: Wait, what? Wait, are you serious?
Me: I'm just saying it's a possibility. You never kn--
Student: No...No! NO! Not Mollie!
And that is the magic that is uniquely Orwellian.