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on 3 June 2017
We by Yevgney Zamyatin is famous as founding the genre of dystopian science fiction. Written in Russia between 1919 and 1921, the novel imagines a future society based on surveillance and control. Glass-walled apartments allow the state to keep an eye on everyone at all times.

I thought parts of the novel were wonderful. The best bits for me were the descriptions of an obsessive love affair, between the book’s protagonist - a highly-strung space ship engineer known as D503- and a rebellious young woman, known as I-330, who drinks, smokes and talks revolution. D503’s love affair causes him to challenge assumptions that the state is all knowing and all good. He starts to feel like an individual. At the same time, he wants to lose his newfound identity in the beguiling eyes of his feisty girlfriend.

“Like a crystal I was dissolving in her, in I-330.”

The book is not simply a portrayal of an oppressive controlling state. This is a nuanced study of relationships, both personal and social. It has no clear messages to suit propagandists of any kind. D-503 likes maths, and realises that just as there is no final number in mathematics, so in life there is no final revolution. Life keeps going, with doubt and uncertainty keeping the wheels turning:

“Man is like a novel: up to the last page one does not know what the end will be. It would not be worth reading otherwise.”

I also liked Zamyatin's quirky humour, not what you might expect from the father of dystopian sci-fi. The manuscript of We is part of the story. As D-503 writes it, he describes various misadventures that affect his growing pile of paper. At one point, I-330 leaves her stockings lying on page 124 of the open manuscript. As well as making me chuckle, this also made the point that books really are just a pile of paper. No book, no philosophy, is the final word in wisdom. We is about discovering that such wisdom does not exist.

Unlike Ursula le Guin, I wouldn’t say this is the perfect science fiction novel. The plot is creaky in places, with sudden jumps that sometimes left me bewildered – particularly towards the end. Considering all that D-503 gets up to, the secret police seem rather absent, which was part of an occasional mismatch between actions and consequences.

Overall, however, this is a historic book, up there with the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells as one of the foundations of science fiction.
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on 14 March 2017
We is really an amazing book. It is said to be the inspiration for 1984 and I can believe it. The story follows a similar arc of a government employee in a highly ordered society who falls in love with a mischievous woman and is torn apart by his emotions until he eventually submits to the state. Set in a future communist utopia on the verge of revolution, the visual descriptions remind me alot of JG Ballard. A must read if you are interested in dystopian fiction.
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on 17 July 2015
Started out slowly, but became more interesting as I moved through the book. Eventually, I found I couldn't wait to pick the book up and read it. I enjoyed the slow build up and the graphic discriptions of the encounters. The wonderful, colourful and poetic expressions of the surroundings and his experiencing them brought the whole book alive.
I didn't directly choose this book other than I had read a quote from it in another book. I thought I had made a mistake in buying this book, but kept reading and really did enjoy and experience it in a way never expected.
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on 11 June 2017
The text doesn't flow, and the plot doesn't really get going. I give this book props for being innovative and inspiring to others, but I didn't find it an entertaining read. It was convoluted and hard to get into.
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on 30 January 2014
Other reviews have criticised the writing style of this book, but I feel it fits they way the narrative is constructed from the lead character's thoughts as they occur to him. To me though the most interesting part is the parallels with Brave New World and 1984 both of which were clearly influenced by this novel.

One word of warning though! Do what I did and don't read the introduction until you have finished the book as it will spoil the story.
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on 19 June 2017
I believe that it was unique in its time. A monumental work. In reality, 4 stars for the story; 5 for what I believe was its originality and structure.
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on 1 May 2017
Beautiful , strange and poetic novel that inspired 1984,Brave New World and others.
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on 9 June 2017
Great.
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on 7 October 2016
Good.
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on 5 March 2017
More akin to Brave New World than 1984. Good cerebral workout although sometimes confusing. Good writer.
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