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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 5 December 2013
I'm actually finding it really difficult to express my thoughts about this novella. I think my biggest problem with it is that it seemed less like a well thought out story to me, and more like window dressing for her philosophy. It felt like blatant propaganda rather than something that was truly thought provoking.

Initially I quite liked the use of "we" and "us" instead of "I" and "me" to suggest the loss of individualism within society, but it quickly felt contradictory to me, since Equality 7-2521 (the central character and narrator) quite obviously had a clear sense of his own identity and of the individual identity of others, that wasn't altered by the use of different pronouns. It's hard for me to explain, but it just felt to me that it was a narrative device that failed to do what it seemed like the author wanted it do do - a case of trying too hard, maybe. I don't know. It's just something that I thought was a good idea at first, but it just fell flat for me, and in the end was simply irritating.

There was also something about this story that rubbed me very much the wrong way as a feminist. In this society where everyone is supposed to be equal, and allocated to different houses according to how they serve society (ie their jobs), women are segregated from men and apparently excluded from the House of Scholars, for example. In fact the only women we encounter are working the fields, harvesting food. At first I had thought Rand had been clever in that there was no way to tell from the writing what gender anyone was, until it later became clear that the default was male, and women had their own special category. Which wouldn't have been a problem, if that was something that was being criticised, but that's not the case.

The only thing that is criticised is the concept of collectivism - the loss of individual rights and freedoms and one's right to make choices. To be fair, Rand does a good job in that respect. However, I also think she oversimplifies the argument somewhat and presents us with a flawed premise to which she tells us she has the answer. I thinks it's this last point, the tone of "you're doing it wrong and I know best" that makes this feel like propaganda and not something I can take too seriously. I'm all for "what if" scenarios, no matter how far fetched, and I'm all for challenging established philosophies and politics and systems of government and what-have-you. I like to have my preconceptions challenged and to be given food for thought. Unfortunately Anthem doesn't really come across that way to me. It felt like it was trying to tell me what to think, rather than asking me to question.

So, although I understand why some people consider this an important piece of writing, and I think Rand does raise some valid questions - I also think Anthem tries too hard to force its conclusions on me, and for that reason, above all others, I don't really rate it highly at all. Am I glad I read it? Yes. But I won't be doing so again.
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on 22 October 2013
The story itself is quite simple but this is more about the philosophy it carries.
Not an easy thing to read but not easy to put down too.
Rush fans will see how it influenced early lyrics from a young Peart. He hasn't copied this by any means but was very clearly swayed by the stark world portrayed here and the lack in individualism allowed.
Not the kind of thing to recommend for a casual read, I came across it because of Rush. Some of it rings true in our over controlled country today.
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on 23 July 2013
Shorter but just as good a read as George Orwell's 1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or Yevgeny Zamyatin's We. Ayn Rand also lays down much of the philosophy behind individualism which is still valid today.
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on 17 May 2013
Good read. As per the title, this makes Rands point about the ego, self and yourself simply and quickly. This is the first of her books I have read and I found the style and flow of her writing easy to read. I will be moving onto some of her more famous works now.
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on 13 October 2014
I was driven to read this book as it was an inspiration for the Rush album 2112. It is short and could easily be read in one sitting so there was never going to be as much character and plot development as in, say, Brave New World, a similar themed and much better novel, but I found it overly simplistic and a bit implausible with a conclusion that seems at odds with the novel's theme. The Rush album makes a more convincing tale!
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on 26 October 2013
This is the first Ayn Rand I have ever read and I was delighted by the beauty inherent within her prose: I believe that the dystopia is a depiction of communism gone to the utmost extreme in which "I" does not even exist. 1984 shared this stark beauty and I am sure that Orwell would have been inspired by her work. At only 87 pages long I read this comfortably in one swoop and some of the quotes within are remarkable beautiful and poetic.
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on 5 July 2013
Sometimes it's good to be reminded just how important it is to be human and stand up for your rights. I read this classic years ago and wanted to reread it after being reminded of it by a friend. What surprised me was how different it was to what I remembered from my teenage years.
It's only short so read it and resolve never to be downtrodden by any government anywhere!
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on 24 December 2012
An interesting short story but with too many open ends that could have been closed. The first part of the book followed quite a reasonable pace but the last part finished at a rush as though the author didn't know where the story should go.
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on 11 August 2013
Although first published 65 years ago, this novella has a more contemporary feel. Its dystopian setting is a future where the individual has become completely subsumed by the needs of the collective. Although the prospect of global communism has receded, the points about individuality and living to work still apply. To me, this book had a bit of a Logan's Run feel to it, or rather vice versa. In these days of rampant capitalism, the message is still relevant - live YOUR life, not the life that you're told to live!
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on 27 May 2013
the novel charts the story of a man whos name is anumber and who eeks out his days as a street sweeper: a profession chosen for him by the council in a wolrd where individuality is unknown…

the book is a philosophical view on the reasons for life and what makes us what we are… worth picking up a copy
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