Book Review: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Format: Paperback

Pages: 203 pages

Published: September 21, 2006 (First published 1924)

Publisher: Modern Library

Genre:  Fiction & Literature, Science Fiction, Classics

Synopsis:

Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We is a powerfully inventive vision that has influenced writers from George Orwell to Ayn Rand. In a glass-enclosed city of absolute straight lines, ruled over by the all-powerful ‘Benefactor’, the citizens of the totalitarian society of OneState live out lives devoid of passion and creativity – until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul. Set in the twenty-sixth century AD, We is the classic dystopian novel and was the forerunner of works such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It was suppressed for many years in Russia and remains a resounding cry for individual freedom, yet is also a powerful, exciting and vivid work of science fiction. Clarence Brown’s brilliant translation is based on the corrected text of the novel, first published in Russia in 1988 after more than sixty years’ suppression.


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We wasn’t great, however, it wasn’t a bad novel to read. The ideas were all there. I can see how George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was inspired by this book. The themes of suppression and control is so prevalent in the novel that you as the reader have a hard time not associating the novel with real life. Although is considered to science fiction, the themes made the book feel more real and can be applicable to everyday life.

So what made this book a difficult read? Well, that is just it. The book was a difficult read. Some parts were so jumbled to a point it didn’t make coherent sense. But, I think that the author was doing that on purpose. D-503’s descent and experience away from conformity to individuality caused to lose all sense of reality. All his reason was thrown out the window. And since the narrative is written like his journal, the incoherent thoughts were used as a plot device to show the readers his descent into “madness” was caused by his first taste of a different reality. Like I said, the ideas are all there. It is just, for some readers, it will make the story a difficult read and have them totally miss out on the message of the novel.

This is not a plot driven novel. This is a book filled with radical ideas and themes that will expand your mind. But beware of the jumble thoughts and incoherent sentences. It will have you scratching your head. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give We a chance. It is more relevant to our current times than you realize.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository| Your local library

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