Five words from the blurb: dystopia, totalitarian, masterpiece, individual, freedom
I hadn’t heard of this book until Michelle recommended it on my Literary Science Fiction post, but I’m so pleased that she bought it to my attention as I feel it is one of the most important dystopian fiction novels ever written.
We was originally written in 1921, but was suppressed in Russia and so first published in English, French and Czech, before finally being published in Russian in 1988. We is recognised to have been the inspiration behind George Orwell’s classic 1984, but on reading it I spotted key ideas that I’d read in many other books.
The plot follows D-503 (everyone is given a unique number, not a name) who lives in a totalitarian society built entierly from glass (so they can be spied on more easily). All aspects of life are controlled to the extent that everyone must get up, work and eat at exactly the same times each day. D-503 begins to have dreams and question the society he lives in. Everything changes when he discovers that there are other humans living outside OneState – haired humans who live free amongst the animals….
The book is very readable and hasn’t dated at all. It is amazing to think that it was written 90 years ago as most of the ideas and fears still hold true for us today. The book was packed with thought-provoking quotes:
I was gripped throughout, but have to admit that a few things went over my head. I would have benefited from having a reading guide to explain some of the weirder sections, but I’m sure this is one of those books that gets better with each re-reading.
The only problem with this book was that I didn’t develop an emotional attachment to any of the characters. I was interested to see what would happen to them, but didn’t really care about their fate.
I think it is important for anyone interested in dystopian fiction to read this book, but if you after an emotional response to events then you need to look elsewhere.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
I’m glad I read We for the historical and contextual value as a dystopia, but I didn’t love it. Rebecca Reads
….the longer We went on, the more it reminded me of The Famished Road by Ben Okri with its endless blending of colour and dream. Books, Time, and Silence
…one of the weirdest, most disorienting things I’ve ever read. The Zen Leaf