Number of Pages: 110
Release Date: January 1, 1938
“He lived in the dark ages of the future. In a loveless world, he dared to fall in love. In an age that had lost all trace of science and civilization, he had the courage to seek and find knowledge. But these were not the crimes for which he would be hunted. He was marked for death because he had committed the unpardonable sin: standing out from the mindless human herd. Ayn Rand’s classic tale of a dystopian future of the great “We”—a world that deprives individuals of a name or independence—anticipates her later masterpieces, ‘The Fountainhead’ and ‘Atlas Shrugged.'”
Normally I don’t enjoy reading shorter books or novellas such as this one. I usually find them to be too short to really go anywhere significant with the story because there’s not a lot of time for character or plot development. However, I really enjoyed Anthem, both because of the story itself as well as the historical importance behind it.
I always thought that Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver was the first novel to play with the idea of a society that dictates everyone’s role in life. After reading this I realize that I was mistaken, because the society in this novel is even more controlling in that regard. In Anthem, the main character is told that he will be a Street Sweeper, even though his greatest desire is to be in the House of Scholars. But he is not supposed to show preference, which is why at first he accepts what his future will now be. I think this is such an interesting concept, because it’s something that we all struggle with today- society often implies one direction that we should go in, but deep down we really want to follow a different path.
For a shorter book, Anthem actually did a great job at hitting on all of the majors aspects of a great story. Equality, the main character, was one that I couldn’t help feel and root for. My heart ached for him as he struggled to discover what individualism was, especially when it was on the tip of his tongue and he just could not figure out what he was missing. The plot escalated at a gradual pace, one that was slow enough to not be confusing but fast enough to still be engaging and suspenseful. There was even romance, which I did not expect in story about such a controlling and restrictive society. The ending was clever and wrapped mostly everything up, but it still left enough open to the reader’s interpretation.
I absolutely loved the way Ayn Rand wrote this book. Instead of using “I” she used “we” to emphasize the fact that individualism did not exist in this society. I have never read a book with such a drastic change in the writing style before, except for possibly Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. It took a little bit to get used to it, but once I did I thought that it was fascinating. It is so clever and brilliant and was a risk well worth taking.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book despite the fact that I normally don’t like novellas or really short novels as much. The book itself was great, and the historical significance behind it was really interesting as well. This story is essentially a reaction to communist ideas that were rising in popularity in different parts of the world after the Red Scare of the 1920s and with WWII developing. With that in mind, this story takes on an even more important meaning.
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5 smileys.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Definitely, especially if they enjoy science fiction or dystopian stories. Fans of The Giver (Lois Lowry), Divergent (Veronica Roth), or Matched (Ally Condie) will probably enjoy this short and sweet novel.
Have you ever read this book or anything by this author? Let me know in the comments section below!