Book Review: “Anthem”

Anthem
Author: Ayn Rand
Rating: 4/10
Where I read it: October 2016, …somewhere in Java, Indonesia

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Anthem is a very short novel about a dystopian society in which the collective is strictly prioritized above the individual, presumably modeled after the author’s youth in the USSR. The main character grows increasingly uncomfortable until ‘they’ (all normally-individual pronouns in the society/story are cast to plural ones) can’t take it anymore and have to take action.

It wasn’t bad. I don’t regret reading it. But it didn’t do much for me. I read this to get a taste of Rand’s writing, thinking maybe it would show me the light of some sort of radical individualism and give me an excuse not to care about others or pay my taxes. That didn’t happen, thankfully. I think ultimately the dystopia she paints is so far-fetched that it feels a little unfair to illustrate that image and then actually apply it to real-world moral opinions and debates about governmental policies. Still, though, it’s an interesting story and imaginative fictional society.

While I didn’t love it, it’s a very short novella. It was creative, and the writing was compelling enough that I will continue reading Rand. If you have a favorite work of hers, please recommend it to me.

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