That’s all you need to say in order to spark a huge political/philosophical debate. Go on any message board that has Ayn Rand or her books and you’ll see people argue over her political views like it’s the debate team in high school. Like many, I have heard of Rand from that one South Park episode where Officer Barbrady quits reading after reading Atlas Shrugged.
I do have Atlas Shrugged, but am iffy about reading it. I did pick up Rand’s much, much shorter work Anthem. After reading this, I’m a little worried about Atlas Shrugged.
In a, what else, dystopian future humans are pretty much slaves to this society. Everything is controlled by different palaces down to what your name is and what your role in society is. Equality 7-2521 (yes, that’s the main lead’s name) is a street sweeper who, like everyone else, does what he’s told. One day him a fellow street sweeper find a hole that leads to a relic from the Unmentionable Times (a subway) and slowly he defies this dystopian society.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The main lead ( I am NOT going to call him by his name. Let’s call him Joe) and everyone in this world refers to each other as “we” and “they.” This goes on throughout the book up until the last two chapters. Yes, there is supposed to be a point to the “we” and “they” but after a while it just gets annoying. Not to mention after a while I was expecting Joe to blurt out “filthy hobbitses. We hates them, precious.”
No, seriously. don’t lie to yourself. You will start expecting that response if you decide to read this book.
On the whole, this really isn’t a very good book. The plot is weak as hell. He finds something from the past, rediscovers lightning (yes) and then flees. That’s the entire plot. This book is more along the lines as a political/philosophical manifesto than an actual novel. The problem is the whole “don’t trust the government. The government is evil” bit has been so much in other books. In fact, Anthem may only be 90 pages but it feels like 400.
Not to mention the whole subplot of Joe meeting the girl (let’s call her Kim.) She doesn’t serve any purpose except to be an obvious allegory to how poorly women are treated in society. She could be completely left out of the book and nothing will change. She literally does NOTHING throughout the book.
Don’t get me started on the last chapter. In the last chapter, Joe and Kay stop calling each other “we” and instead use the proper “I.” Which is fine until Joe decides to give each other new names. He names himself Prometheus and Kay Gaea. This is so pretentious that you can see Rand patting herself on the back for “a job well done.”
In all, Anthem just isn’t all that worth reading. It has a piss poor plot, a terrible message and is a chore to read. If this is what’s to be expected from Rand, then maybe Atlas Shrugged will push me to never read again.