Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review: Anthem by Ayn Rand

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Description from Good Reads 
Anthem has long been hailed as one of Ayn Rand's classic novels, and a clear predecessor to her later masterpieces, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In Anthem, Rand examines a frightening future in which individuals have no name, no independence, and no values. Equality 7-2521 lives in the dark ages of the future where all decisions are made by committee, all people live in collectives, and all traces of individualism have been wiped out. Despite such a restrictive environment, the spark of individual thought and freedom still burns in him--a passion which he has been taught to call sinful. In a purely egalitarian world, Equality 7-2521 dares to stand apart from the herd--to think and choose for himself, to discover electricity, and to love the woman of his choice. Now he has been marked for death for committing the ultimate sin. In a world where the great "we" reign supreme, he has rediscovered the lost and holy word--"I." 

My Review
This is my first Ayn Rand novel, and was recommended to me by my Aunt. I was reading Scarlet by Marissa Mayer (read my review here) and was explaining to my aunt the type of book it was. I mentioned how much I love dystopian fiction, and she said "You must have read Anthem by Ayn Rand then", and I just looked at her like "No........" and she said I must read it. I listen to my aunt when she says I must read something, so I promptly requested it from my local library.

This was a quick read- without the forward, the whole book was only 88 pages long! But it wasn't an easy read. It's not that there were a lot of words I didn't know, or complicated scenarios, it just took some time for me to really even understand what was going on. I didn't actually read the description of the book before reading it- I was just going by the recommendation. So I didn't know that the "We" the main character was referring to was actually himself. So I stopped, and read the description, and then I started the whole book over (I was only about 10 pages in at that time, and the paragraphs are spaced out, and the font large, so I didn't actually waste too much time). 

The thing about dystopian fiction novels is they make you think about the world, and the thought I think the most while reading them is "Could this happen? Or is it already happening?" While I don't think we are heading toward the society mentioned in this novel- no name, no independence, no value- I do think there are glimmers of our individual liberties being taken away, making us less of an "I" and more of a "we". 
I'm trying really hard not to touch on my personal politics, but I think that's what her novels intend for us to do- think about the world, the way things are, and what we can do to change it.

I did like the concept of "we" versus "I". I think it says so much about our society as a whole.

I really did enjoy this novel. I think it touched on some interesting things. But I just "liked" it. I gave it three stars on GoodReads. I'm not sure why- but it's just not a book that is going to "stay" with me for awhile, and I probably won't give it a whole lot of thought beyond this first reading. I have no real interest in reading it again- I get what it's about, and it's definitely not what I would think of as comfort reading.

You can purchase Anthem in paperback here.
Or, you can probably find it at your local library like I did!

FTC: I borrowed this book from my local library. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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