We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin: The cover of my copy of this book claims to be the most influential science fiction novel of the 20th century. I’m not convinced that’s the case, unless it influenced Orwell and Huxley and Bradbury and claims vicarious influence through them, because let’s face it: most people haven’t even heard of this book. It is indeed a dystopia, where people have willingly sacrificed their freedom and individuality in the name of happiness. Everyone has a letter and number instead of a name. Everyone’s actions are completely synchronized, down to each bite of food. All walls are transparent except during sex, which is restricted to certain hours of the day and only with a pre-approved coupon from your partner. When our protagonist, D503, meets the alluringly subversive I330, his world is turned upside-down. Unfortunately, the writing is kind of terrible. A good portion of the sentences end in ellipses, leading me to wonder if anybody in this world is capable of finishing a sentence. It leaves a whole bunch of stuff to inference. Maybe I’m just dense, but I had a lot of trouble figuring out what was going on. And then, after all that confusion, the ending still manages to be trite and predictable. There’s a reason why 1984 and Brave New World are more famous than this one: their plots and philosophies, at least, are possible to follow. If you read only one dystopian novel this year, choose something else.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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