I'm a sci-fi writer and reader, although, let's be honest - I'll read just about anything that moves me, regardless of the genre.
I, probably like most people who have ever considered reading Dune, never did because I'd seen part of the movie and was positively weirded out by it. Let me begin this review by saying DO NOT JUDGE THIS BOOK BY THE MOVIE. The book is AMAZING, and the movie, well, it's a literal travesty that it was so poorly made and hence scared off so many potential readers.
The cover of Dune states it is a sci-fi master piece, and while I find I don't often agree with the reviews on the covers of books, in this case I do. This is a book that isn't lacking in any theme. There is political intrigue, mysticism, religion, love, violence, adventure, alien planets, awesome technology, giant man eating worms, and a really cool freaking planet.
The story follows Paul Atreides, as he, his father (the Duke) and his mother (the Duke's concubine) move to a desert planet. There's a violent power shift and Paul and his mother (Jessica) are forced to flee into the desert, which is believed to be inhospitable. Turns out one group of people, the Fremen live in the desert, and won't you believe it, they have religious prophecies that Paul and his mother factor into.
Dune is really fun and chilling. I love watching characters grow into positions of impossible power, and Paul does that. The pieces click into place as the plot grinds forward, and there are a lot of pieces. Herbert has crafted an incredible book, and for you sci-fi aficionados, it is not to be missed.
*Also, for anyone who's read the Wheel of Time books, there are an incredible amount of similarities between the Aiel (the people of the Waste) and the Fremen. If you're a Wheel of Time fan who has ever wondered where Jordan got some of his ideas, read Dune.
**Also, ever seen Tremors with Kevin Bacon? Pretty sure they just took the Dune worms and made a move about them involving Kevin Bacon in cowboy boots and tight jeans. I can't believe Tremors wasn't totally original :P